NUR-SULTAN, May 7 (Xinhua) -- The number of COVID-19 cases at an oil field in Kazakhstan jumped to 160 while more than 12,000 employees have been withdrawn from the site, the Khabar 24 TV reported on Wednesday.
The Tengiz oil field in west Kazakhstan's Atyrau Region produced nearly 30 million tons of crude oil in 2019. It is owned and operated by Tengizchevroil, with U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp holding a 50 percent stake.
The earliest cases occurred at a workers' camp of the oil field on April 8. Over 1,500 workers have been identified as close contacts so far.
"Disinfection measures have been taken in the field. All communications between the shift camps were stopped. Security measures were tightened around the Tengiz field. Four roadblocks have been set up on the roads leading to Tengiz," Serik Shapkenov, first deputy governor of the Atyrau Region, said on Wednesday's video conference.
Local health authorities said massive testing will be conducted among workers to avoid cross infection.
General Director of Tengizchevroil Imer Bonner said a total of 17,000 employees will be evacuated from the oil field by the end of next week and return to their permanent residency. Production activities continue, though some construction work would be delayed. Demobilized workers will receive compensation equivalent to their average salary. Overtime will be paid for those who remain in production.
The Atyrau Region has reported 240 COVID-19 cases, the hardest-hit in Kazakhstan after Almaty and Nur-Sultan.
The central Asian country has registered over 4,500 confirmed cases and 30 deaths as of Thursday. Enditem