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'Not Consistent With Reality': Kazakh Health Ministry Rejects Claims of Emerging Deadly Pneumonia

Sputnik News

19:02 GMT 10.07.2020

The Kazakh Ministry of Health on Friday firmly rejected recent media reports that claimed an unknown, deadly pneumonia far more fatal than that caused by the novel coronavirus was ravaging the Central Asian country.

The ministry explained in a statement that a spike in reported pneumonia cases was the result of a misunderstanding of its classification of instances in which patients had COVID-19 symptoms, but the illness was not confirmed with a laboratory test.

Symptoms of the novel coronavirus include experiencing difficulty breathing, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat and nausea, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also indicated that some individuals may ultimately develop more severe symptoms, like pneumonia.

Kazakh health officials have been classifying documented illnesses according to the WHO's International Classification of Diseases system. In fact, Kazakh Health Minister Alexey Tsoy announced Thursday that in line with the WHO's guidelines, the country had detected pneumonia cases with bacterial, fungal and viral origins, including what officials identified as "viral pneumonia, unspecified organism."

The health ministry's explainer statement came after the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan issued a warning earlier Friday to Chinese nationals that an unknown type of pneumonia with a higher mortality rate than COVID-19 had emerged in the country's Atyrau and Aktobe regions, as well as the city of Shymkent.

At the time, the embassy's notice indicated that the Kazakh ministry was investigating the virus and that the "situation" was unclear.

However, as has been explained, that was not exactly the case. "The Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan emphasizes that the reports of the Chinese media is not consistent with reality," the ministry's Friday release concludes.

In a statement to the South China Morning Post, the WHO said that the classification system being used by the Central Asian country "suggests [the pneumonia cases] do not classify as emerging unknown disease."

"There are a wide range of potential explanations for pneumonia, of which one is COVID-19 which we know is circulating in Kazakhstan," the WHO said in its statement before noting that its officials were in contact with Kazakh authorities.

At present, Kazakhstan has reported more than 54,000 novel coronavirus cases, according to data collected by Worldometer. The country's COVID-19-related fatalities number is just over 260.


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