EU allocates €3 million to fight COVID-19 in Central Asia

By Aydar Ashimov

A man and two women July 17 in Nur-Sultan wear personal protective equipment donated by the EU. [EU Delegation to Kazakhstan]

A man and two women July 17 in Nur-Sultan wear personal protective equipment donated by the EU. [EU Delegation to Kazakhstan]

NUR-SULTAN -- The European Union (EU) Monday (July 20) launched the comprehensive Central Asia COVID-19 Crisis Response (CACCR) solidarity package, according to a statement from the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan.

The deadly virus has seen a resurgence in Central Asia after countries lifted restrictions in May.

The package, which has a budget of €3 million (1.4 billion KZT), will address the needs of Central Asian countries with "a primary focus on Kazakhstan". It is scheduled to last 2 years.

"The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how vulnerable our national health systems are and how vital it is to rethink the way we handle public health emergencies," said Sven-Olov Carlsson, EU ambassador to Kazakhstan.

"In addition to providing essential medical supplies and equipment needed today, the CACCR programme will ... help laboratories and hospitals to be better prepared to face similar pandemics tomorrow," he said.

Reliable equipment

The programme will provide 400,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and 1,000 diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Medics will administer 2 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in Kazakhstan as part of the effort.

PCR tests are meant to diagnose current infection rather than find antibodies from past infection.

In April, Kazakhstan began focusing on developing its own COVID-19 test kits amid news that similar products made in neighbouring China have proven to be defective.

The programme is meant to train 5,000 healthcare workers on IPCR and 400 lab workers on biosafety and PCR testing.

"This is priceless aid for Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries during this challenging period, as the fight against the coronavirus infection rages on and victory is still far off," said Meruert Abdualiyeva, a doctor from Shymkent.

"The test kits, PPE and experience of colleagues from other countries are what will help doctors greatly right now," she said.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in June delivered laboratory equipment and supplies to help Kazakhstan battle the pandemic.

While US and European countries have been giving direct aid to Central Asia during this crisis, Russia and China have been busy pumping out disinformation in an attempt confusion about the coronavirus pandemic.

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