Chinese embassy issues alert to citizens over Kazakhstan pneumonia outbreak

Coronavirus Symptoms

A woman wears a face mask at an art to protect against coronavirus transmission. Image source Sputnik via AP

The novel coronavirus that is now circulating has caused some people to get pneumonia.

Chief sanitary officer Ayzhan Esmagambetova says the mortality rate from pneumonia has increased in Kazakhstan four times in June 2020 compared to the same time frame past year.

Some Chinese experts said that measures should be taken to prevent the pneumonia from spreading into China.

The Kazakh denial follows a notice issued Thursday by the Chinese Embassy that warned its citizens about an outbreak of pneumonia in the ex-Soviet nation with a death rate higher than that from coronavirus-induced pneumonia. The government reacted to the crisis by sacking the health minister who contracted pneumonia himself, and announcing a two-week quarantine, starting on July 5.

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The Chinese embassy described the virus as "unknown", according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

The embassy's website, citing local media reports, said the provinces of Atyrau and Aktobe and the city of Shymkent have reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Shymkent and the capital city of Atyrau are 1,500km apart, while the distance between the capital cities of Atyrau and Aktobe is 330km. The Chinese embassy claimed that so far there have been almost 500 pneumonia cases in Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent. There's no mention of the number of deaths that can be attributed to this new pneumonia. Pneumonia has been commonly seen in coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, there are 53,021 death from coronavirus in Kazakhstan and 264 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 Dashboard.

Last month the foreign ministry of Turkmenistan, another Central Asian country, dismissed as "fake news" a USA embassy health alert warning Americans of potential coronavirus cases in the country. "The situation is still unclear", the statement said.

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A spokesman for UK's embassy in Kazakhstan told Business Insider it had no information beyond news reports.

It should be noted that the World Health Organization introduced codes for pneumonia in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), while COVID-19 is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically, for example through the symptom of ground-glass opacity and affected lungs, and it is not laboratory confirmed.

In the first half of the year 1,772 people have died of pneumonia including 628 in June, the Chinese embassy said. Kazinform said there were over 200 hospitalisations per day in June.

The minister said that it has planned to publish accurate tallies of confirmed cases as early as next week, noting that while it is not necessary to publish the number, the public needs to know the true situation, Kazakh worldwide news agency Kazinform reported.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was acting against "horrific and systematic abuses" in the western region. These sanctions mean that they are barred from entering the United States and will have US-based assets frozen.

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

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