According to the Chinese embassy’s website, the death rate of this disease “is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus.” The statement claims that 1,772 people have died of the unidentified illness, with 628 fatalities in June alone. It is currently unclear as to why the embassy described the illness as “unknown” or what information it has regarding these pneumonia cases.
On July 10 Kazakhstan’s health ministry acknowledged the presence of what they referred to as “viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology” but said the statement issued by the Chinese embassy did “not correspond to reality.” The ministry said that it had classified certain cases that exhibited COVID-19 symptoms but tested negative for the presence of the coronavirus itself as cases of pneumonia, as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
Initially instituting a state of emergency on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kazakhstan lifted their lockdown on May 11, but has returned to a state of strict quarantine measures that will last from July 5 through 19. To date, Kazakhstan has reported nearly 57,000 cases of COVID-19, resulting in at least 264 deaths.The World Health Organization expects that these new instances of pneumonia will eventually be found to be undiagnosed COVID-19 cases. “The upward trajectory of COVID-19 in the country would suggest that many of these cases are in fact undiagnosed cases of COVID-19,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program.