Kazakhstan denies Chinese reports of 'unknown pneumonia' deadlier than coronavirus

Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Alexey Tsoi

On Thursday, the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan issued a warning to citizens living in the Central Asian country that the pneumonia had killed more than 1,700 people.

The embassy states that Kazakhstan saw 1,772 pneumonia deaths in the first half of the year, including 628 in June, some of whom were Chinese nationals. According to the embassy, the fatality rate of this new disease is much higher than COVID-19.

On Friday the World Health Organization said the pneumonia reported in Kazakhstan was "on its radar" and could be Covid-19. These cases included different types of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia - including some of "unspecified etiology".

However, quoting the Chinese state media, HT reported that Kazakhstan's healthcare minister said on Wednesday that the number of patients sickened by the pneumonia is two to three times more than those who have been infected with COVID-19.

However, Kazakhstan's Health Minsitry is calling this out as "fake news".

Zhang said he believed Chinese citizens will continue to abide by epidemic prevention requirements of Kazakhstan, observe good self-protection, and ensure personal safety.

The warning is oddly reminiscent of when Chinese scientists announced to the world in January that they had discovered a never-before-seen strain of coronavirus that resembled pneumonia, now known as SARS-CoV-2. This suggests they do not classify as emerging unknown disease.

This code is used when there is "clinical or epidemiological diagnosis of COVID-19 (but) where laboratory confirmation is inconclusive or not available". On March 20th, Russian Federation had reported just over 100 COVID-19 cases. Restrictions and quarantine measures were reintroduced in some areas after the new surge in pneumonia cases. "We are now in contact with the authorities in Kazakhstan to understand situation developments and provide support as needed". "There is no truth in these claims", Alexey Tsoi, Minister of Health of Kazakhstan, said at a press briefing.

Kazakhstan, home to around 18 million people, has recorded more than 54,000 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University. The novel coronavirus that is now circulating has caused some people to get pneumonia.

Most of the cases have been reported from the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

"It is impossible to say 100 per cent, but 99.99 per cent they were caused by the coronavirus. Because in the past there have never been community-acquired viral pneumonias in June", the doctor said.

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