July 17, 2020 / 10:57 AM / 22 days ago

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan to report some pneumonia cases as COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) treat patients at a day hospital, which is located in a school gym and provides services free of charge, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov

ALMATY/BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyzstan added thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths to its COVID-19 tally on Friday, describing them as cases of pneumonia most likely caused by the novel coronavirus which had not been detected by tests.

Its neighbour Kazakhstan, which has also reported a jump in pneumonia cases, said it would do the same starting next month, which would also cause a one-off spike in numbers.

Both Central Asian nations are struggling to curb the spread of the virus after ending their initial lockdowns in May, and Kazakhstan this month imposed a second lockdown after hospitals filled up in several major cities.

Kyrgyzstan reported a total of 23,783 cases of COVID-19 and COVID-like pneumonia as of Friday, having previously reported only 12,498 COVID-19 cases. The number of deaths, with the same adjustments, surged to 785 from 167.

Kazakh healthcare minister Alexei Tsoy told a briefing on Friday the Nur-Sultan government would start reporting combined figures from Aug. 1.

The number of deaths from pneumonia has jumped 75% so far this year compared with the same period of 2019, he said, reaching 3,327. Kazakhstan has reported 66,895 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, with 464 deaths.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty and Olga Dzyubenko in Bishkek; Editing by Catherine Evans

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