Kazakhstan detects possible COVID variant in its biggest city

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan has discovered COVID-19 infections in its biggest city, Almaty, showing a probable mutation, the Central Asian nation’s healthcare ministry said on Friday.

Full genome sequencing tests will be needed to see whether the infections were caused by the British, South African or Brazilian variant, the ministry said in a statement.

It did not say how many infections were discovered.

Kazakhstan, which borders Russia and China, has tightened restrictions in Almaty this month, ordering shopping malls to close and limiting public transit working hours at weekends due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The former Soviet republic has confirmed about 280,000 cases of COVID-19 and pneumonia likely caused by it, with 3,550 deaths. It has vaccinated about 100,000 people so far and plans to vaccinate a million people next month, using the Russian Sputnik-V shots.

Reporting by Sean Tyler Chan / AdChoiceTV News

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