Kazakhstan to shut down most businesses in major cities for a week

Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant on the street in Nur-Sultan

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan on Friday ordered most companies in its capital Nur-Sultan and biggest city Almaty to suspend work between March 30 and April 5, the government said, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Only state bodies, healthcare organisations, media, food retailers, pharmacies and other essential service providers will be allowed to continue work, it said in a statement.

The Central Asian nation has confirmed 124 coronavirus cases, most of them in the two largest cities, and reported its first death this week.

On Thursday, the government barred residents of Nur-Sultan and Almaty from leaving their homes, except for work or to buy groceries and medicines.

(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans)