"Deadly new virus" in Kazakhstan: a diplomatic and health mess with China

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China says a new disease more deadly than the coronavirus is currently spreading in Kazakhstan. The former Soviet country denied this Friday, July 10.

Kazakhstan on Friday denied claims by the Chinese embassy that a new virus, more deadly than Covid-19, is spreading in various regions of this gigantic Central Asian country.

In a message to its citizens, the Chinese embassy in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, warned on Thursday against a new disease "with a much higher death rate than Covid-19" that would have caused 1,772 deaths in the first six 2020 months and "628 in June only".

The press release initially spoke of "Kazakh pneumonia," but this term was replaced by "non-covid pneumonia." According to the embassy, three regions of Kazakhstan are affected and the Chinese are among the victims.

Kazakhstan denies

The claims "by the Chinese media" do not "correspond to reality," the Kazakh Ministry of Health said in a statement quoted by local media on Friday, without mentioning the statement by the Chinese embassy.

The ministry reported patients who were diagnosed with pneumonia, not coronaviruses, although they had symptoms, because the Covid-19 test results were negative.

When asked about the press release from his embassy in Nur-Sultan, Chinese diplomacy spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that China "also wants more information," adding that Beijing "hopes to continue working" with Kazakhstan to fight the epidemic."

A possible "manifestation of the coronavirus"

Last week, the Kazakh authorities reintroduced containment measures to counter the increase in coronavirus cases: in total, the country officially registered 57,747 infections and 264 deaths on Friday, but, like its neighbors in Central Asia, it is accused of observers and NGOs for minimizing the scale of the pandemic. Lack of good quality evidence is cited as a reason for this underestimation.

In an article dealing with the denial of the Ministry of Health, the pro-government site Tengri News quotes a doctor who claims that the increase in cases of pneumonia is "a manifestation of the coronavirus." In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the Ministry of Health announced that pneumonia would now be included among Covid-19 cases.

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