WHO believes 'unknown pneumonia' in Kazakhstan could be COVID-19
Updated 09:47, 11-Jul-2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday that the "unknown pneumonia" reported in Kazakhstan could be COVID-19.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the Health Emergencies Program of the WHO, said at a regular briefing that the pneumonia outbreak in the Central Asian nation was "certainly on our radar," and the WHO is working with local health authorities amid a rise in reported cases.

He also pointed out that there's been a big surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, with over 10,000 confirmed over the last seven days.

The WHO is studying the quality of local testing conditions in case some pneumonia cases are in fact undiagnosed cases of COVID-19, Ryan said, adding that the WHO "keeps an open mind" to other possibilities.

"We are looking at the actual testing and the quality of the testing to make sure that there have not been false negative tests for some of those other pneumonia that are provisionally tested negative," he said. "That is likely to be a major cause of this. In many ways, many of these pneumonia cases will also be COVID-19. They just have not been diagnosed correctly."

The WHO is also working with health authorities to look at and review X-rays to see if these cases are consistent with COVID-19.