An “unknown pneumonia” with a death rate much higher than the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has infected people in several Kazakhstani cities, Chinese embassy officials have warned.
It’s not clear why diplomats say the pneumonia is unknown, as Kazakhstani officials have previously said simply that the country is in the midst of a pneumonia epidemic on top of the tens of thousands of coronavirus infections.
The embassy statement cites local media reports, saying that the incidence of pneumonia has increased significantly in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.
According to Kazakhstan’s health ministry, there were 32,000 cases of pneumonia between June 29 and July 5, with 451 deaths.
“The mortality rate of the disease is much higher than that of [the] new coronavirus,” says the embassy statement.
“The Kazakh Ministry of Health and other institutions are conducting a comparative study on the pneumonia virus, and no definitive determination has been made.
“The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan reminds Chinese citizens in Kazakhstan to pay attention to the above situation, to effectively raise awareness of prevention and reduce the risk of infection,” it adds.
The Central Asian country has reported 54,747 COVID-19 cases to date and recently imposed a second lockdown – albeit softer than the initial lockdown this spring – after the easing of restrictions was followed by a sharp increase in new cases. Kazakhstan reported 1,692 new cases on July 9.
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