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’re 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.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has praised the efforts taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Dharavi, one of the world’s largest slums, underscoring the need for community engagement along with national unity and global solidarity to turn the pandemic around.
Dharavi, which is located in India’s commercial capital Mumbai, is spread over an area of 2.5 square kilometres and has a population of 650,000. People live in shanties and dilapidated buildings with narrow lanes and open sewers.
The first COVID-19 patient in Dharavi was found on April 1, nearly three weeks after Mumbai recorded its maiden positive case on March 11. Addressing a virtual press conference here on Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were many examples from around the world that have shown that even if the outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control.