Kazakhstan denies China’s claim of new deadly virus

AFP
July 11, 2020

Almaty, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan denied Friday a claim by China’s embassy that a pneumonia outbreak more deadly than the novel coronavirus is rampaging through the Central Asian country.In an...

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Almaty, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan denied Friday a claim by China’s embassy that a pneumonia outbreak more deadly than the novel coronavirus is rampaging through the Central Asian country.

In an alert for Chinese citizens posted on the embassy’s website Thursday, Beijing warned of a disease with "a mortality rate far higher than Covid-19" -- an assertion that was later removed from the statement. The statement also said the pneumonia outbreak had caused 1,772 deaths in the first half of 2020 and "628 in June alone". The statement originally referred to "Kazakhstan pneumonia" but this wording was later changed to "non-Covid pneumonia". The embassy mentioned three provincial cities -- Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent -- saying the disease has taken hold there and Chinese nationals are among those who have died from it.

The Kazakh health ministry is studying the disease and comparing it to Covid-19, the embassy said. Kazakhstan’s health ministry said Friday the claim published by "Chinese media" did not "correspond to reality", without mentioning the embassy.

The ministry acknowledged it had classified as pneumonia cases where Covid-19 symptoms were present but the patients tested negative, arguing that this falls within World Health Organisation guidelines.

Asked about the embassy’s statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told journalists China "also wishes to find out more information". China, he said, "hopes to continue to work together with Kazakhstan to fight the epidemic and safeguard both countries’ public health and safety". The World Health Organisation appeared to support Kazakhstan’s position in a statement emailed to AFP by a spokesman Friday.



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