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Kazakh capital reports surge in pneumonia cases

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Pneumonia cases in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, have surged amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, its healthcare chief said on Thursday.

Pneumonia can be caused by the coronavirus and the surging numbers could indicate that many cases of the novel coronavirus are going untested. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Central Asian nation bordering China and Russia has nearly tripled this month to 32,000.

Doctors are finding some 600 people a day with pneumonia symptoms, Nur-Sultan healthcare department chief Saule Kisikova told a briefing, up from about 80 a day before the coronavirus outbreak.

“Every day, 350 to 400 patients are hospitalised in the city with either COVID-19 or pneumonia,” she said, adding that the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases averaged 150.

“Within a week, the number of patients (in hospitals) has tripled.”

State-run clinics in the city of 1.1 million - the go-to healthcare providers for the majority of the population - have closed their doors to visitors this week as their doctors reinforced COVID-19 call-centres and ambulance teams.

Kazakhstan, which ended a nationwide lockdown last month, has now once again locked down several towns and introduced new measures such as closing shopping malls, markets and parks on weekends.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Robert Birsel