- Kazakhstan said China falsely claimed that the country is dealing with an “unknown pneumonia” that is deadlier than COVID-19.
- China’s embassy in the country warned about a pneumonia “much deadlier” than COVID-19, and warned citizens to take action to protect themselves.
- It said that China has misinterpreted its statistics about suspected COVID-19 cases, and instead characterized them as a mysterious new virus.
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Kazakhstan is accusing China of making false claims that Kazakh authorities are dealing with an “unknown pneumonia” that is deadlier than COVID-19.
China’s embassy in Kazakhstan warned Chinese citizens in the country on Thursday that this new pneumonia was “much deadlier” than the coronavirus pandemic.
Writing on social media app WeChat, the embassy said there had been a “significant increase” in cases of the new disease since mid-June, Reuters reported.
It said in its statement that “Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus,” according to CNN.
But Kazakhstan’s health ministry on Friday dismissed reports about it in Chinese media, saying in an English-language statement that “this information IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH REALITY.”
In an accompanying picture, it branded a story about the embassy’s warning in the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post as “FAKE NEWS.”
Kazakhstan said that China had misinterpreted its statistics, characterizing suspected, but unconfirmed, coronavirus deaths as instead being a result of the new, mysterious pneumonia.
The embassy had pointed to increased deaths from pneumonia: It said that pneumonia had killed 1,772 people in the first six months of 2020, and that 628 of those deaths, which include Chinese citizens, were in June.
Kazakhstan’s coronavirus cases have been increasing throughout June and July, currently seeing record numbers of confirmed infections.
Pneumonia is a swelling of the lungs, and it can be caused by a bacterial infection, or by a number of viruses. The novel coronavirus that is currently circulating has caused some people to get pneumonia.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakhstan’s president, said that there has been an increase in pneumonia cases, without mentioning a new virus.
“We are, in fact, facing the second coronavirus wave coupled with a huge uptick in pneumonia cases,” Chinese news outlet CGTN reported.
Kazinform, Kazakhstan’s news agency, reported that the Turkestan region of the country had 2,079 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, while the number of unclassified pneumonia cases in the region had reached 5,500.
A spokesman for UK’s embassy in Kazakhstan told Business Insider it had no information beyond news reports.
“Our advice remains to follow all the preventative guidance such as hygiene and social distancing.”
Kazakhstan, home to around 18 million people, has recorded more than 54,000 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Tokayev said on Wednesday that the country was seeing “the first signs of stabilization, though it is too early to relax,” Kazinform reported.
He also warned that the country is now dealing with the second wave of the virus, as not enough people had followed quarantine regulations.