China issues alert after 32,000 ‘unknown pneumonia’ cases found in bordering Kazakhstan

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The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan released a statement warning its citizens to take precautions. It said there had been a “significant increase” in cases in Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

In the first half of the year 1,772 people have died of pneumonia including 628 in June, the Chinese embassy said.

In a statement, the embassy said: “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus.

“The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus.”

It is unclear whether it is caused by a virus related to coronavirus or a different strain.

Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry said it has recorded more than 32,000 cases of pneumonia between June 29 and July 5, with 451 deaths.

It dismissed claims the pneumonia outbreak is more deadly than coronavirus.

Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections were in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

It said: “The information published by some Chinese media regarding a new kind of pneumonia in Kazakhstan is incorrect.”

Kazinform, the state news agency of Kazakhstan, reported that the number of pneumonia cases “increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019”.

Head of the healthcare department of Nur-Sultan Saule Kissikova told the state news agency: “Some 300 people diagnosed with pneumonia are being hospitalised every day.”

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Chief sanitary officer Ayzhan Esmagambetova said the mortality rate from pneumonia in June was four times higher than the same period last year, RT reported.

She said that many of those who are ill have not been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Speaking on Wednesday, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the country is facing “the second coronavirus wave coupled with a huge uptick in pneumonia cases”.

Kazakhstan ordered a second lockdown this week in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has recorded nearly 55,000 cases and 264 deaths.

The number of confirmed cases jumped by a record 1,962 on Thursday.

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