NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakhstan's army and police are joining the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus as the disease continues to spread.
As of Tuesday (March 31), Kazakhstan had 336 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including two deaths.
The country is under a March 15-April 15 state of emergency.
During a meeting of the State Commission on Securing the State of Emergency on March 23, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered the army and police to enact preventive measures and maintain order.
Individuals outside their homes may be questioned as to their purpose of travel, and, in some cases, required to document their designation as an essential employee. Individuals violating quarantine measures can be fined or imprisoned.
The move comes amid quarantine measures in cities across the country, including Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Aktau, Karaganda, Shakhtinsk, Saran, Temirtau, Abay and Atyrau.
Starting Tuesday (March 31), travel restrictions took effect in Kostanay and Aktobe.
Nur-Sultan and Almaty, where the majority of the coronavirus cases are, have been under lockdown since March 22.
Under the lockdown, all non-essential local businesses and organisations will be closed through at least April 5. National and local government agencies, law enforcement agencies, healthcare organisations, media organisations, grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open.
Police are manning checkpoints and prohibiting individuals from entering and exiting the two cities.
Meanwhile, on March 22, the Kazakh chief public health officer enacted a resolution establishing a 14-day quarantine for those who arrived from abroad or came in contact with anyone with the coronavirus.
Army, police ensure safety
Police have multiple duties besides guarding checkpoints: they are maintaining public order during the state of emergency, organising the sewing of protective masks and preventing quarantine violations.
In prisons operated by the Interior Ministry (MVD), authorities launched efforts from the earliest days of the state of emergency to start producing protective masks that minimise the risk of infection.
Police officers on the job are using 130,000 masks made by prisoners.
Some 1,200 volunteers are helping the police maintain public order by taking part in raids and helping implement preventive measures in all major cities.
At the same time, the Kazakh armed forces ordered the deployment of biological protection units, which began operations on March 25.
Personnel equipped with individual decontamination kits and disinfecting solution are cleansing key facilities in cities across Kazakhstan, such as schools, kindergartens, medical institutions, shopping centres, markets, mosques, train stations, sidewalks, public transportation stops, boulevards and squares.
Soldiers are helping stranded Kazakhs return home.
On March 24-25, 56 Kazakhs in Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who had been unable to leave returned to Kazakhstan aboard military aircraft.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan Engineering, a defence contractor, announced on March 25 that it was providing 180 ventilators to medical facilities.
National security, though, is not being neglected during the pandemic.
Security personnel continue to carry out their regular duties in thwarting followers of terrorist organisations. The extremists are not abandoning their attempts to carry out terrorist acts.
Last week, the National Security Committee (KNB) the March 25 arrest in Nur-Sultan of a suspect who, influenced by the ideas of the "Islamic State" (IS), allegedly was plotting a terrorist act.
Authorities seized an improvised explosive device (IED), said the KNB.
The IED contained shrapnel, which was meant to cause gruesome injuries.
Backing healthcare workers
In another measure ordered by Jomart-Tokayev to halt the spread of coronavirus, the commission on the state of emergency Monday (March 30) approved fixed monthly bonuses for medics treating patients suffering from the disease.
The payments will be made within three months to healthcare workers in three risk groups.
A "very high risk" group includes doctors and mid-rank and junior medical staff of infectious disease hospitals, including their intensive care units. The salary bonus will equal 20 monthly installments of the minimum wage, totalling KZT 850,000 (about $1,895).
The "high risk" group includes doctors and mid-rank and junior medical staff of provisional in-patient clinics and of ambulances. The salary bonus will be 10 monthly installments of the minimum wage, which is KZT 425,000 (about $947).
The "medium risk" group includes doctors, paramedics and nurses of quarantine clinics, public health officers (civil servants), ambulance drivers and others. The salary bonus will equal five monthly installments of the minimum wage, which is KZT 212,500 (about $474).
Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin has instructed the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to insure the health and lives of medics.
Health workers infected with the coronavirus will get a one-time benefit payment from the State Social Insurance Fund in the amount of KZT 2 million (about $4,460).
Relatives of health workers who perish from coronavirus will get KZT 10 million (about $22,295).