Kazakhstan denies Chinese reports of pneumonia deadlier than COVID-19

WION Web Team Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan Jul 10, 2020, 11.33 AM(IST)

Coronavirus in Kazakhstan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The Chinese embassy, in a statement late on Thursday on its official WeChat account, flagged a "significant increase" in cases in the Kazakh cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

Kazakhstan has dismissed the warning by China's embassy for its citizens that advised to guard themselves against an outbreak of pneumonia in the central Asian nation. China described the pneumonia as being more lethal than COVID-19, the disease caused due to the novel coronavirus.

The Chinese embassy, in a statement late on Thursday on its official WeChat account, flagged a "significant increase" in cases in the Kazakh cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

On Friday, however, Kazakhstan's healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as "fake news". The ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections, which also included cases of unclear causes, were in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

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

Also read | 'Unknown Pneumonia' deadlier than coronavirus sweeping across Kazakhstan, warns Chinese Embassy

In its statement, the Chinese embassy had said pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the year's first half, with 628 deaths in June, including Chinese citizens. It is unclear whether the penumonia it referred to was caused by a virus related to coronavirus or a different strain.

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".

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

On Tuesday, state news agency Kazinform said the number of pneumonia cases "increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019".