An outbreak of pneumonia that is ‘more lethal’ than coronavirus is spreading across Kazakhstan, according to Chinese officials.
Authorities in Kazakhstan have denied a report that the country is experiencing an outbreak of ‘unknown pneumonia’ after China’s embassy in the Central Asian country warned its citizens to take precautions.
It claimed there had been a ‘significant increase’ in cases of pneumonia in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.
In a statement on its official WeChat account late on Thursday, the embassy said that the illness has already killed more than 1,700 people.
Officials claimed 1,772 people have died of pneumonia in the first half of the year, with 628 deaths in June alone, including Chinese citizens.
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‘The mortality rate of the disease is much higher than that of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus,’ the embassy statement said.
It remains unclear whether it is caused by a virus related to coronavirus or by a different strain. The embassy said Kazakhstan’s health ministry and other health institutions were now carrying out a ‘comparative study’ but no conclusions had yet been made.
According to a report by Kazinform, the state news agency of Kazakhstan, the number of pneumonia cases ‘increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019’.
Today, the Kazakhstan health ministry acknowledged the presence of ‘viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology’ but denied that the outbreak was new or unknown.
‘In response to these reports, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially declares that this information does not correspond to reality,’ a statement read.
It added the ‘unspecified’ pneumonia classification followed World Health Organization guidelines ‘for the registration of pneumonia when the coronavirus infection is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically but is not confirmed by laboratory testing’.
Kazakhstan has recorded more than 50,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases rose to a daily record of 1,962 on Thursday, Kazinform reported.
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