Wind Advisory
from MON 2:00 PM MST until MON 11:00 PM MST, Western Pima County including Ajo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tohono O'odham Nation including Sells, Upper Santa Cruz River and Altar Valleys including Nogales, Tucson Metro Area including Tucson/Green Valley/Marana/Vail, South Central Pinal County including Eloy/Picacho Peak State Park, Southeast Pinal County including Kearny/Mammoth/Oracle, Upper San Pedro River Valley including Sierra Vista/Benson, Eastern Cochise County below 5000 ft including Douglas/Wilcox, Upper Gila River and Aravaipa Valleys including Clifton/Safford, White Mountains of Graham and Greenlee Counties including Hannagan Meadow, Galiuro and Pinaleno Mountains including Mount Graham, Chiricahua Mountains including Chiricahua National Monument, Dragoon/Mule/Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains including Bisbee/Canelo Hills/Madera Canyon, Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains including Mount Lemmon/Summerhaven, Baboquivari Mountains including Kitt Peak, Aguila Valley, Northwest Valley, Tonopah Desert, Gila Bend, Buckeye/Avondale, Cave Creek/New River, Deer Valley, Central Phoenix, North Phoenix/Glendale, New River Mesa, Scottsdale/Paradise Valley, Rio Verde/Salt River, East Valley, Fountain Hills/East Mesa, South Mountain/Ahwatukee, Southeast Valley/Queen Creek, Superior, Northwest Pinal County, West Pinal County, Apache Junction/Gold Canyon, Tonto Basin, Mazatzal Mountains, Pinal/Superstition Mountains, Sonoran Desert Natl Monument, San Carlos, Dripping Springs, Globe/Miami, Southeast Gila County

China warns Kazakhstan is facing pneumonia outbreak more deadly than COVID-19

Kazakhstan's health officials on Friday dismissed a Chinese claim that the Central Asian country is facing an outbreak of pneumonia more deadly than the new coronavirus.

The Kazakh denial follows a notice issued Thursday by the Chinese embassy's that warned its citizens about an outbreak of pneumonia in the ex-Soviet nation with a death rate higher than that from coronavirus-induced pneumonia.

“This information doesn't conform to reality,” Kazakhstan's Health Ministry said in a statement.


A file image shows the novel coronavirus under a microscope. (Photo by: Cavallini James/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

It noted that the country's statistics on pneumonia include patients who tested negative for the coronavirus but had symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

According to official data, the number of pneumonia cases has increased by 55% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019 — from 63,436 to 98,546.

RELATED: Doctors reporting brain, heart, and kidney side effects in some COVID-19 survivors

However, Health Minister Alexei Tsoi said at a briefing Thursday, mortality from pneumonia this year fell from last year's levels — from 1,780 deaths in the first half of 2019 to 1,172 in the first half of this year.

The energy-rich Central Asian nation quickly introduced regional lockdown and travel restrictions to stem the coronavirus pandemic, but it has faced a rise in infections after it lifted the restrictions in May.

In late June, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev fired the nation's health minister, blaming him for flaws that helped trigger a second wave of contagion.

Kazakh authorities have imposed a two-week nationwide lockdown starting Sunday to contain the outbreak.

The country so far has registered over 53,000 cases, including 264 deaths.

RELATED: Bolivian president has COVID-19 as virus hits region's elite

Asked to comment on Kazakhstan's denial of the Chinese embassy's claim, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian refrained from comment, saying that Beijing hopes to receive more information.

“China looks forward to continuing cooperation with Kazakhstan to jointly fight the epidemic and safeguard public health in both countries,” he said.

RELATED:, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates