Kazakhstan Denies China's Claim of 'Unknown Pneumonia' Deadlier than COVID-19

By Rakini Bergundy, July 10, 2020

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Yesterday, the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan sent an official message alerting Chinese citizens in the republic to be cautious of an unknown pneumonia deadlier than the current coronavirus pandemic. The news quickly spread across news outlets worldwide. In the notice, it was stated that almost 628 people have died from an unknown pneumonia in the last month, with 1,772 deaths to date. This pneumonia supposedly has a much higher fatality rate than COVID-19.   

The notice stated that Kazakhstani health officials and other institutions are conducting a comparative study on the pneumonia virus, and no definitive identification on the virus has been made. The cities Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent were also singled out as places where cases of pneumonia spiked, with almost 500 cases. In June, the total number of pneumonia cases nationwide more than doubled to 1,700 when compared to June of 2019.  

However, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health formally denied the rumors of an unknown pneumonia more deadly than the coronavirus, deeming the information as “fake news.” The ministry explains that in a July 9 briefing by health minister Alexei Tsoi, he referred to “the number of pneumonia cases in the country as a whole: bacterial, fungal and viral origin, according to the ICD-10 classification of ‘viral pneumonia, of unspecified etiology.’” ICD-10 is a medical classification list by the World Health Organization. 

Image via @Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan/Facebook

As Kazakhstan borders Northwest China, many are concerned with the chances of the virus spreading through neighboring Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Due to the spike in cases, Kazakhstan has reimposed a partial lockdown.

As of press time, Kazakhstan has 51,059 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of that number 16,928 have recovered and 264 have passed away.

[Cover image via Azattyq Rýhy]

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