Kazakhstani officials have slammed the Chinese embassy’s claims that an outbreak of a mystery pneumonia “deadlier than coronavirus” in the country as fake news.
The Kazakhstan Ministry of Healthcare moved to deny the claims that there was an outbreak of mystery disease in the country which had been put forward by the Chinese embassy in an advice to Chinese people living there.
Chinese officials had claimed that the “unknown pneumonia” outbreak had lead to the death of a startling 628 people in the month of June, including Chinese nationals.
Kazakh officials have now confirmed 32,000 cases of “pneumonia” were registered between 29th June and 5th July along with 451 deaths.
They said that in most of these “pneumonia” cases coronavirus tests were negative, but they said the cases were almost certainly caused by coronavirus rather than a “mystery” new disease, blaming testing failures for false negatives.
An official message on Facebook reads: “The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan officially declares that this information is not valid.”
The ministry went on to say that just because patients had tested negative for the COVID, this did not necessarily prove they did not have the virus, saying: “The WHO introduced into the International Classification of Diseases – ICD – 10 codes for accounting for pneumonia when COVID-19 is diagnosed clinically or epidemiologically, but not laboratory-confirmed, for example by the ground-glass opacity of the affected lungs.”
Local health official Dr Kairgali Koneev told the Azattyq news site that COVID tests can give false negatives, adding that anyone who does test negative is not included in the official government statistics.
However, he says he is convinced these cases of pneumonia must be COVID-related, saying: “It’s summer now, what other disease than coronavirus can it be.”
The Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Aizhan Esmagambetova, 48, told Azattyq that the negative results were a result of an issue with the testing.
He said: “Recently, we note that the result of the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is negative. This is acceptable, because COVID infections from the upper respiratory tract fall into the lower respiratory tract, and the PCR test does not then always give a positive result.”
The country’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 67, had warned on 29th June that the epidemiological situation in the country is ‘on the edge of losing control’. Health Minister Alexei Tsoi, 43, announced strict lockdown measures on the same day which have been brought in for at least two weeks.
Kazakhstan has officially registered 54,747 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 264 deaths, according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University.
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Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Central European News
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