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‘Much higher’ death rate than Covid-19: Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warns of dangerous local pneumonia

‘Much higher’ death rate than Covid-19: Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warns of dangerous local pneumonia
The Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan has warned its citizens in the Central Asian country to exercise caution amid a large outbreak of viral pneumonia, which appears to be deadlier than the new coronavirus.

Between Covid-19 and the pneumonia outbreak, the diplomats described the health situation in Kazakhstan as “very grim.” Since the start of the year, 1,772 people have died of pneumonia in the country. In June alone, there were 628 fatalities, including Chinese citizens, a statement on the embassy’s website reads.

“The mortality rate of the disease is much higher than that of the new coronavirus pneumonia,” it said. The Kazakh Ministry of Health and other scientific bodies have been conducting “a comparative study” on the pneumonia virus and Covid-19, but no definitive findings have been made yet, the embassy added.

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The diplomats urged citizens to take the same precautions as with the Covid-19 disease, which originated in China’s Wuhan in December and has infected more than 12 million people worldwide, killing over 550,000.

Chinese people in Kazakhstan were advised not to leave their homes without an urgent need, to avoid crowded places, wear a face mask, wash their hands often and swiftly seek medical help in case of any symptoms.

Kazakhstan’s Health Ministry said that it had registered more than 32,000 cases of pneumonia and over 9,400 cases of Covid-19 between June 29 and July 5. During this period, 451 people with pneumonia and 76 coronavirus patients died.

Chief sanitary officer, Ayzhan Esmagambetova, warned that the mortality rate from pneumonia has increased in Kazakhstan four times this June compared to the same period last year. She pointed out that many of those sick were not diagnosed with Covid-19. However, this could be explained by fact that the coronavirus tests often lack precision, the official added.

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Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Wednesday that the country is experiencing “the second coronavirus wave coupled with a huge uptick in pneumonia cases.”

The decision was made that all pneumonia patients will receive the same treatment that they would receive if they had coronavirus, Esmagambetova said.

The spike in pneumonia cases has been a tough test for the Kazakh health system this summer as it faced a lack of hospital beds, medical staff, tests equipment and drugs. 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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