Kazakhstan: The report by China of ‘unknown pneumonia’ is false

By Vanshika Thakur

On Friday, Kazakhstan rejected the Chinese Embassy’s warning to its citizens against a pneumonia outbreak in the Central Asian nation that it identified it as more lethal than coronavirus.

As of mid-June, the Chinese embassy has noted a “major rise” in cases in the Kazakh cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent in a statement on its official WeChat account late Thursday.

However, on Friday, Kazakhstan’s health ministry labeled Chinese media reports as “false news” based on the embassy comment.

The ministry said its descriptions of infections with bacterial, fungal, and viral pneumonia, which also included cases of unclear causes, were consistent with guidelines from the World Health Organization.

“The information published by some Chinese media regarding a new kind of pneumonia in Kazakhstan is incorrect,” the ministry said.

Kazakhstan, which imposed a second lockdown to rein the pandemic this week, has a tally of nearly 55,000 COVID-19 infections, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases grew to a daily record of 1,962 on Thursday.

State news agency Kazin form said on Tuesday that the number of cases of pneumonia “went up 2.2 times in June compared to the same duration in 2019.’

The Chinese embassy had said in its statement that pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the first half of the year, with 628 deaths in June including Chinese citizens.

“The mortality rate of the disease is much higher than that of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus,” it said.

It is uncertain if the pneumonia to which he refers was caused by a coronavirus-related virus or another strain.

Health ministry and other health institutions in Kazakhstan were carrying out a “comparative analysis,” but no conclusions had been drawn yet, the embassy added.

The Global Times tabloid run by China’s People’s Daily has said Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry “did not respond to questions about the Chinese embassy’s warning”.

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