Several days ago, news broke that a new virus hitting the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan was worse than the Wuhan Coronavirus.

An “unknown pneumonia” that is “much deadlier” than COVID-19 has killed scores of people in Kazakhstan, according to an ominous warning from the Chinese embassy in the country. In a statement to its citizens who live in Kazakhstan, the embassy claimed the mysterious disease has killed 1,772 people this year—including Chinese citizens—and 628 of those deaths took place in June.

The claims have not been verified by the Kazakh government, according to CNN. “Kazakhstani Health Department and other agencies are conducting comparative research and have not defined the nature of the pneumonia virus,” the embassy statement said, adding: “This disease is much deadlier than COVID-19.” A Kazakh news agency reportedly cited government data showing that hundreds of people are being hospitalized with the unknown disease every day.

However, Kasakh health officials deny these claims.

Kazakhstan’s health ministry officially dismissed the Chinese government’s warning of a strange pneumonia, saying the information given by the Chinese embassy was “incorrect”.

The health ministry did say, however, that the pneumonia cases in the country all showed clinical symptoms of abnormalities. So, something is awry with this pneumonia, whatever that may mean.

George Gao Fu, director of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted by the China New Service today saying the Chinese authorities were still investigating it.

Aizhan Esmagambetova, chief sanitary doctor for Kazakhstan, was quoted in Informburo — a state run news portal — saying the death toll from pneumonia this year was 50% higher than it was last year.

Furthermore, a top official at the World Health Organization asserts that the pneumonia outbreak in Kazakhstan is likely to be the novel coronavirus.

The executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, said in an online briefing from Geneva that he.thinks the cases “just have not been diagnosed correctly.”

The upward trajectory of COVID-19 in the country would support this, Ryan added.

On Thursday, the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warned its citizens of a deadly unidentified strain of pneumonia, after a “significant” rise in cases in June.

Initially, the statement released through its social media WeChat channel referred to “Kazakhstan pneumonia,” before changing the wording to “non-COVID pneumonia.”

Kazakhstan dismissed the claims as “fake news.”

Why would China promote the idea of a deadly, new disease breaking out in a country with which it shares its border? Perhaps it is China’s attempt to continue the pandemic panic within the U.S. and other countries that are economic competitors.

Additionally, a look at recent Kazakhstan-China relations reveals some strain between the two countries. Paired with China’s recent moves along the Indian border, it appears like it is attempting to aggressively extend its regional influence.

For example, in April of this year, Kazakhstan summoned the Chinese ambassador in protest over an article that asserted the Central Asian nation wanted to actually become part of China.

Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador on Tuesday to protest over an article saying the country was keen to become part of China, the ministry said.

In a statement the Kazakh ministry said the article titled “Why Kazakhstan is eager to return to China” and published on privately-owned Chinese website sohu.com “runs counter to the spirit of permanent comprehensive strategic partnership” officially declared between the two countries.

The ambassadorial summons is an unusual move since the neighbouring countries usually avoid criticising each other.

The article does not reflect the position of China’s government, and the two countries’ friendship shall not be shaken by any matter, said China’s foreign ministry in a statement sent to Reuters.

The article retells in brief the history of Kazakhstan, noting that leaders of many Kazakh tribes had pledged allegiance to the Chinese emperor.

While it is difficult to believe WHO officials without proof, it is easy to believe that this disagreement over the virus smacks of China’s aggressive approach to dominate the region by any means necessary.

 

 
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