Highlights of spring 2020: COVID-19 pandemic in Kazakhstan
The spring has indeed been special this year. The novel coronavirus quarantine was introduced across all continents, and the dangerous virus affected even the most remote locations on the planet. Within the last three months, the world faced the unprecedented challenge in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The humankind made certain conclusions – people started reevaluating their priorities. They seem to have experienced the change in their value systems. We offer you to recall what spring 2020 was like and what the Kazakh residents will remember about these last three months.
March: state of emergency, ghost cities, masks and disinfectants
March is not only the beginning of spring, but also the month when the COVID-19 outbreak started in Kazakhstan. The first cases of coronavirus were reported, and the nationwide state of emergency was declared. Non-food markets, shopping centers, beauty salons, fitness centers, dentist offices and other businesses closed one by one.
The checkpoints were established at the borders of the Kazakh cities. People were allowed to leave their homes only to buy food or go to the pharmacy or hospital.
The fake news hit the Internet. The official media were barely managing to refute one rumor after another. However, this didn’t stop buying panic in grocery stores. Kazakh residents began emptying supermarkets shelves immediately after the coronavirus quarantine was introduced. Various memes on this topic were all over the social media.
The antiseptics and masks were sold out in the pharmacies in the first few days of the nationwide lockdown. The new trend appeared due to that – people started sewing their own protective face masks or ordering them from domestic designers.
April: distance learning, 42,500 tenge, flash mobs and murals to pay tribute to health workers
The second month of spring began. People all over the world learned to put up with the fact that they have to live online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Kazakh residents started remote working – they downloaded the Zoom video communication platform and conducted the meetings online. The schools in the country switched to the distance learning as well. The government paid the Kazakh residents the social welfare worth 42,500 tenge (US$102).
April was full of online concerts of the popular Kazakh artists. Bloggers and Kazakh residents themselves started various flash mobs. The Kazakh TV team didn’t stand aside and organized Instagram live sessions with artists and experts from various fields.
Public actively supported such initiatives. The majority of events were dedicated to the main heroes of the spring 2020 – the health workers who are on the front lines fighting against the COVID-19 infection. The murals appeared in the cities of Kazakhstan to thank the medical workers for their work.
The residents of the Kazakh cities sang songs on the balconies and gave rounds of applause to thank those fighting on the front lines. The famous Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergen and opera singer Maira Mukhamedkyzy dedicated their songs to the health workers. Soon these songs became global hits.
May: long-awaited relaxation of quarantine restrictions, walks in parks, and resumption of domestic flights
May is the month when the state of emergency ended in Kazakhstan. Though many Kazakh residents were able to be back in the office, the coronavirus quarantine is still in place. People couldn’t help but rejoice the first relaxations of the quarantine – shops, cafes, beauty salons, dentist offices and other businesses were finally allowed to reopen. The cities started to come to life after the two-month of lockdown. Certain domestic flights were resumed.
However, the strict sanitary rules weren’t lifted. This week the students in Kazakhstan completed the school year and the last bell ceremony that traditionally takes place on May 25 was held online for the first time in the country’s history. This is not the first large-scale event that took place online this May. Earlier this month, Kazakh residents celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory in the Second World War without leaving their homes. They posted on social media publications in tribute to the war veterans and the fallen soldiers. The residents also participated in the campaign called ‘the Immortal Regiment’ and took to their balconies to light the candles.
Though this spring was not easy for the Kazakh citizens, it was absolutely unforgettable. Many people rethought their interests and values. Most importantly, they learned to value what they have at the moment. Indeed, all travels, leisure activities in the shopping centers and even the ordinary meet-ups and walks outside were banned at one day.
Many people managed to see advantages in the self-isolation. First of all, they finally got a lot of time to spend with their families. In addition, Kazakh citizens began to care more about their health. Some people started doing workouts and other people started eating healthy. Many Kazakh residents realized that sometimes it is so important to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and take a time out to recharge – to learn a new skill, start a new hobby for pleasure and set new goals. Good news is that summer is just around the corner!