• Chinese officials claim that the neighboring country of Kazakhstan is dealing with an outbreak of a new virus that’s even deadlier than the novel coronavirus.
  • Kazakhstan officials say there is no new virus, though the country is dealing with a spike in COVID-19 cases.
  • China’s handling of COVID-19 news has been sketchy since the early days of the pandemic, and it’s unclear why the country is making the claims.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still raging across the globe, the last thing we need is another new virus that is even more deadly. Unfortunately, that’s what recently popped up in Kazakhstan, at least according to Chinese health officials. The initial reports sounded pretty dire, with the new “unknown pneumonia” carrying a higher fatality rate than COVID-19, and cases piling up rapidly.

It was very, very bad news. That is until Kazakhstan officials decided to chime in on the reports and essentially denied the entire thing. China hasn’t backed down on its initial claims and insists that its neighbor is dealing with something very serious.

Kazakhstan went into lockdown in mid-March over the coronavirus pandemic. It enacted many of the same restrictions we’ve seen worldwide, and cases of COVID-19 began to trend downward. The country made the decision to “reopen,” or lift many of the lockdown restrictions in early May. Recently, the infection rate has begun to trend upward once again.

The country recently had its most reported infections in a single day. Roughly two weeks ago, officials reported nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, which is a record for the country. The government has called this the “second wave,” and it’s similar to what many other countries, including the United States, are currently battling, but whether there is a new virus running rampant in the country is still unclear.

Kazakhstan officials have noted a huge spike in pneumonia in the country, and as we all know, COVID-19 emerged as an unidentified pneumonia in China before it was isolated and named. However, there’s no real evidence that the illness is anything other than a combination of seasonal illness and undiagnosed COVID-19 infections, so it’s odd that China would immediately jump to declaring that a new virus was on the loose.

Or, maybe it’s not so odd. China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been interesting, to say the least. The country has kept a lot of information about the pandemic and its process of fighting it from the public. Reports out of China suggest that the situation in some areas was much, much worse than Chinese officials were claiming, so perhaps it’s not a stretch to think that China was eager to draw attention away from itself by claiming that a new virus in a different country was even more of a problem.

Whatever the case, it’s now been over a month since China made its initial claims, and Kazakhstan has yet to report the emergence of anything other than an increase in COVID-19 cases. If there really was a new virus in the country that was even worse than the novel coronavirus, it’s sure taking its time.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.