KEY POINTS

  • The Chinese embassy warns its citizens in Kazakhstan that an “unknown pneumonia” has killed more patients this June than COVID-19
  • Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health is allegedly doing a study on this pneumonia and the novel coronavirus 
  • The Kazakhstan health minister says pneumonia cases are 2.2 times higher in June 2020 than June 2019 but it’s not an unknown pneumonia
  • The foreign affairs minister says COVID-19 is under control in Kazakhstan

Chinese embassy officials in Kazakhstan are raising the alarm on another potential outbreak caused by an "unknown pneumonia," which might be deadlier than COVID-19.

In a statement on WeChat on Thursday, July 9, the embassy said the mysterious pneumonia virus has killed 1,772 patients, including Chinese nationals, from January to June 2020, with 628 dying in the last month alone.

"The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus," the embassy posted on the Chinese social media platform.

Quoting local media sources, the embassy said at least three regions in Kazakhstan have 500 cases. They also said the Kazakh Ministry of Health is doing a comparative study, with the help of other scientific agencies, between the novel coronavirus and the pneumonia virus but there are still no conclusive findings.

"The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus," the embassy said. "The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan reminds Chinese nationals here to be aware of the situation and step up prevention to lower the infection risks."

8239492922_ac9be6b5f6_o Kazakhstan has a surge of "unknown pneumonia" cases, according to the Chinese embassy. Photo: Ninara/Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

But the South China Morning Post reported that Kazakhstan officials described the illness as simply pneumonia. It's not clear why the Chinese embassy said that its nature was unknown.

Local news agency Kazinform reported that the Kazakhstan health minister confirmed its pneumonia cases are 2.2 times higher for June 2020 than it was in 2019. The ministry plans to publish a tally of pneumonia cases to inform the public of the "true situation."

The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the other hand, released a statement to say that the coronavirus situation in Kazakhstan is under control.

According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Kazakhstan has 53,021 confirmed COVID-19 cases with over 260 deaths at the time of this writing. Its healthcare system has been doing 14,000 tests a day.