On Thursday, Chinese citizens in Kazakhstan were warned by their embassy that an “unknown pneumonia” had struck the Central Asian state. In a statement, the embassy said 1,772 people had been killed in Kazakhstan since the beginning of the year by the mystery disease, including 628 in June alone.
Chinese nationals were reported to be amongst the dead which the embassy said could be more lethal than the COVID-19 infection currently sweeping the planet.
The embassy claimed the cities of Aktobe, Shymkent and Atyrau had been particularly badly hit.
However, on Friday Kazakhstan’s health ministry strenuously denied the claims which is said did “not correspond to reality”.
The ministry did admit it had classified patients with coronavirus like symptoms, but who tested negative to the new infection, as suffering from pneumonia.
Kazakhstan is denying reports of a new pneumonia like illness
So far Kazakhstan has reported 55,000 coronavirus cases
Kazakhstani authorities have been accused of categorising COVID-19 cases as “pneumonia” in a bid to downplay the scale of the crisis.
So far Kazakhstan has reported 55,000 coronavirus cases and 264 deaths from the disease.
However there has also been a sharp increase in the number of pneumonia cases, with health minister Aleksey Tsoy saying they had increased by 50 percent to 1,780 in the first six months of this year, from 1,172 in the same period in 2019.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it was aware of the new pneumonia reports in Kazakhstan which it said could be pneumonia.
READ MORE: Row erupts between UK and EU as Boris shuns bloc’s vaccines scheme
The WHO said t was aware of the new pneumonia reports in Kazakhstan
Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergency programme, said: “The upward trajectory of COVID-19 in the country would suggest that many of these cases are in fact undiagnosed cases of COVID-19.”
Speaking to the BBC a number of Kazakh residents raised concerns about official pneumonia diagnoses.
Venera Zhanalina lost her father earlier this week after he was exhibiting coronavirus like symptoms.
She stated: “In the death certificate, it said pneumonia as the cause.
SNP stats blunder: Scotland slammed for ‘unacceptable’ data [SHOCK]
Coronavirus update: Follow this diet to lower risk of severe symptoms [HEALTH]
Portugal holidays: Britons are ‘100% welcome’ [LEISURE]
“But we don’t even know if they tested him on coronavirus”
“It’s much easier to change statistics than to fight coronavirus”
“But we don’t even know if they tested him on coronavirus.”
A medical worker, also speaking to the BBC under condition of anonymity, said there was a policy in Khazashastan of deliberately underreporting the number of COVID-19 cases.
She commented: “They do it [lowering the figure] because they don’t want to be in the first place for this disease.
“It’s much easier to change statistics than to fight coronavirus.”
Aida Jexen, another Kazakh resident, said she originally tested positive for coronavirus but was then diagnosed with pneumonia after a second test.
She asserted: “I asked doctors what was the reason, they said that during the first days they took a nasal swab and the virus was still there.
“Later it went down in my lungs and in order to detect it, they needed to take sputum samples.
Some 544,000 people have been killed by coronavirus worldwide
“But they don’t do sputum sampling as they don’t want to be bothered with it.”
The WHO has warned globally the COVID-19 outbreak is not under control and is continuing to accelerate, particularly in Brazil, the US and India.
More than 11.8million people have been diagnosed with the deadly disease, which emerged in China late last year, and some 544,000 have been killed.