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WHO believes ‘unknown pneumonia’ in Kazakhstan could be COVID-19

Kazakh authorities have reported more than 10,000 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last week and just under 50,000 cases and 264 deaths as of Tuesday.

By: AP | London | Published: July 11, 2020 3:59:59 pm
People queue in front of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility in Almaty, Kazakhstan July 8, 2020. (Reuters)

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says the agency believes an unexplained pneumonia outbreak in Kazakhstan is likely due to the coronavirus.

Dr Michael Ryan says Kazakh authorities have reported more than 10,000 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last week and just under 50,000 cases and 264 deaths as of Tuesday.

“We are looking at the actual testing and the quality of testing to make sure that there haven’t been false negative tests for some of those other pneumonias that are provisionally tested negative,” Ryan said.

He added that many pneumonia cases were likely to be COVID-19 and “just have not been diagnosed correctly.”

Ryan says WHO was working with local authorities to review X-rays and look at the pattern of pneumonia cases to see if they were consistent with COVID-19.

“While we believe that many of these cases will be diagnosed as COVID-19, we keep an open mind,” says Ryan, noting a WHO team was already in Kazakhstan.

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