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CNN reports that on July 9, the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan issued a warning to its citizens living in the central Asian nation that an “unknown pneumonia” possibly deadlier than COVID-19 has already killed more than 1,700 people.

  • The statement says, “Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus.”
  • In response to this report, on June 10 the Kazakhstan Health Ministry acknowledged the presence of “viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology” within the nation, but it denied the embassy’s allegation that the pneumonia is new or unknown.
  • “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 said.
  • The ministry added that the “unspecified” pneumonia classification accords with 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.”
  • In a social media statement, the Kazakhstan Health Ministry said Minister Aleksey Tsoy discussed a few different nationwide pneumonia outbreaks at a briefing on July 9. The cases included bacterial, viral, and fungal pneumonia, including some of “unspecified etiology.”
  • All registered cases of pneumonia in the nation rose in June by 300% compared to last year, Tsoy said, from 7,964 in June 2019 to 32,724 in June 2020.
  • The Chinese Embassy’s report, which described the pneumonia cases as a new and “unknown” outbreak, advised citizens to wear masks and avoid going out in public, especially to crowded areas.
  • CNN explains that it “has been unable to independently verify the Chinese Embassy’s report and has reached out to Kazakhstan's Ministry of Healthcare for further details.”
  • Meanwhile, Kazakhstan continues to battle COVID-19, which has infected 53,021 people and killed 264 in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the nation’s first president, has also tested positive.
  • In response to a surge in new cases, Kazakhstan implemented a second round of restriction on July 5.

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