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Kazakhstan Refutes Claim of Deadlier-Than-COVID ‘Unknown Pneumonia’ Outbreak

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security

Authorities in Kazakhstan have labeled as “fake” a report by Chinese officials there that Kazakhstan is experiencing a wide-spread outbreak of an “unknown pneumonia” that is potentially deadlier than the novel coronavirus, the Kazakh news agency Kazinform said Friday.

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“The Health Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan has vehemently denied the reports in its official statement on Facebook,” Kazinform said.

“In response to these reports, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially declares that this information does not correspond to reality,” the statement read.

Chinese Embassy Claims Pneumonia Has Killed More than 1,700 People

The Chinese embassy in the capital Nursultan, formerly Astana, issued the warning on Thursday, claiming that the pneumonia had already killed more than 1,700 people, CNN reported.

The disease has killed 1,772 people this year, some of whom were Chinese citizens, according to the embassy. “This disease is much deadlier than Covid-19,” the statement said.

The embassy warned residents to limit their time outdoors and to avoid crowded public areas. It also encouraged preventative measures like wearing a mask, disinfecting spaces, washing hands frequently, and allowing good air circulation in indoor spaces, Kazinform reported.

The “Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus,” CNN said, citing the embassy statement.

Number of Pneumonia Cases in Nursultan More than Doubled in June

The number of pneumonia cases in Nursultan more than doubled in June from the same time last year, according to Kazinform, which cited official data.

Among those killed was Kairat Baimukhambetov, who served as the Chief Medical Officer of Almaty region, Kazinform reported. Baimukhambetov’s death was confirmed by Galymurat Zhukel, head of the regional administration’s press service. Zhukel said Baimukhambetov died of pneumonia.

“Up to 200 people are admitted to hospitals every day. Over the last few days some 300 people diagnosed with pneumonia were taken to hospitals a day. Besides some receive treatment at home,” Kazinform reported quoting the head of the Nursultan healthcare department.

According to the Chinese embassy, the outbreak was concentrated in the regions of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent, which collectively have almost 500 new cases and more than 30 critically ill patients.

In a statement released on Friday, the Kazakhstan Health Ministry acknowledged the presence of “viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology,” but denied that the outbreak was new or unknown, CNN reported.

The statement added that the “unspecified” pneumonia classification follows 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.”

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies.

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