The Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan on Thursday warned that an "unknown pneumonia" deadlier than the coronavirus was sweeping through the country, according to several media reports.
"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 embassy said in a statement to Chinese citizens, as per the South China Morning Post.
"Unknown pneumonia in Kazakhstan caused 1,772 deaths in the first six months of the year, including 628 people in June alone, including Chinese citizens," the embassy said in a statement. "The fatality rate of the disease is much higher than COVID-19."
As per the SCMP, it is not clear why the embassy described the illness as unknown or what information it had.
The embassy website, citing local reports, said Atyrau and Aktobe provinces and Shymkent city reported significant spikes in pneumonia cases since the middle of June. Kazakhstani officials and media have only said it is pneumonia, as per the SCMP.
Global Times, quoting local media, reported that Kazakhstan's healthcare minister said on Wednesday that the number of patients who have taken ill with pneumonia is two to three times more than those who have been infected with COVID-19.
The minister said accurate tallies of confirmed cases are planned to be published as early as next week, saying that while it's not necessary to publish the number, the public needs to know the situation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, not responding to questions about the Chinese Embassy's warning, released a statement to the Global Times saying, "The COVID-19 situation in Kazakhstan is under control."