The health minister of Kazakhstan gave his resignation on Thursday, claiming that the coronavirus or COVID-19 complications prevented him from leading the efforts against the deadly novel virus outbreak as it increases once more.

Yelzhan Birtanov, who helmed the post since early 2017 and caught the virus himself in mid-June, wrote on his social media account that he had developed pneumonia, which needed additional treatment.

Kazakhstan Health Minister Resigns

Coronavirus
Workers make face masks in the workshop of a textile company in Jimo District of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Feb. 12, 2020. Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Industry and Information Technology has mobilized two large textile companies to produce face masks to help the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic. With the help and coordination of local authorities, the companies have retrofitted their production equipment and modified the assembly lines to produce face masks. It's expected that an average of 60,000 face masks could be produced per day in the first phase of production. (Photo by Liang Xiaopeng/Xinhua/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the former Soviet republic has nearly tripled this month to 32,000, with 136 deaths. Kazakhstan, which ended a nationwide lockdown last month, has now again locked down several towns and introduced new measures such as closing shopping malls, markets, and parks on weekends due to the rises in new cases. Hospitals are being filled to capacity.

A video posted online by the local government of the western Mangistau province showed patients laying on the floors of several rooms and a corridor. The province's chief sanitary doctor on Thursday locked down the oil industry town of Zhanaozen and several nearby villages.

Pneumonia

The healthcare chief of the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan reported a surge in pneumonia cases - which could indicate that many COVID-19 cases are going untested. Doctors are finding some 600 people a day with pneumonia symptoms, Saule Kisikova, the Nur-Sultan healthcare department chief, told a briefing, up from about 80 a day before the coronavirus outbreak.

"Every day, 350 to 400 patients are hospitalized in the city with either COVID-19 or pneumonia," she said, and the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases averaged 150. "Within a week, the number of patients (in hospitals) has tripled," she said.

(With agency inputs)