Thu, 09 Apr 2020

ZAISAN, Kazakhstan -- Authorities in the East Kazakhstan region have agreed to move a coronavirus quarantine center from a village in the Zaisan district bordering China to the regional capital following protests by residents.

Regional Governor Danial Akhmetov met with the protesters in the town of Zaisan on February 20, a day after residents rallied in the villages of Saryterek and Ainabulaq against quarantine centers.

In Saryterek, protesters rushed into the local hospital where a quarantine center for people arriving from China had been set up and removed all the beds from the center.

Akhmetov told protesters that there were no patients in the center yet and told them he needed three days to process their demands. He added that the quarantine center will be gradually moved to Oskemen, the regional capital.

The protests started on the evening of February 19, hours after the Health Ministry announced that special quarantine centers will be placed in towns and villages close to border checkpoints and all people returning to Kazakhstan from China will be placed under quarantine for 14 days.

The ministry warned that those who fail to obey the quarantine order will face repercussions.

Saryterek resident Aibolat Qasenov told RFE/RL that the protests were prompted by confusing information that led people to believe the quarantine centers would host individuals diagnosed with the virus.

More than 74,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in China and hundreds more in nearly 30 countries.

The latest data provided by Beijing says the coronavirus death toll reached 2,118.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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