Schools and universities have been shut and mass events banned in a central Asian state despite the country not officially reporting any coronavirus cases.
Kazakhstan has told schools to bring forward its spring break as part of a national drive to “strengthen measures aimed at preventing” the virus, according to the president’s website.
Universities have been told to start distance learning while a temporary ban on mass cultural and sport events, conferences and exhibitions has also been brought in.
Crowded areas like shopping centres, markets, food processing facilities, train stations and airports will have improved “sanitary conditions”, the website said.
“The head of state (president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev) gave a number of specific instructions to the government and other state bodies to strengthen measures aimed at preventing the penetration and spread of the virus,” the president’s official website states.
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It adds: “Additional restrictive measures will affect international air transport.”
It is the latest country to take stringent measures against the virus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) said “can be characterised as a pandemic”.
Italy’s government has placed the entire country in lockdown, restricting travel and making non-essential shops and services close.
Italy has announced more than 12,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 800 deaths as of Thursday morning, with just over 1,000 recoveries.
Globally, there are more than 125,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US. There have been 68,000 recoveries.
Denmark announced it was closing schools and universities and some public workers were told to go home after its confirmed cases ballooned tenfold from Monday, to 514 diagnoses.
The US has suspended travel from the countries in Europe, not including the UK and Ireland.
The UK is expected to start entering the “delay” phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus, moving from the “contain” phase. This could see social distancing measures introduced.