WHO asks China for more data on respiratory illness amid illness spreading in the north of the country

The World Health Organization has asked China for more data on a respiratory disease spreading in the north of the country, urging people to take measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Northern China has reported an increase in “flu-like illnesses” since mid-October, compared with the same period in the previous three years, the WHO said.

“WHO has made an official request to China for detailed information on the increase in respiratory illnesses and reports of pneumonia outbreaks in children,” the UN health body said in a statement on Wednesday (22 November).

China’s National Health Commission told reporters last week that the rise in respiratory illnesses was due to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens, namely influenza and common bacterial infections that affect children, including mycoplasma pneumonia.

The Chinese capital Beijing, located in the north of the country, is currently experiencing a cold wave, and temperatures are expected to drop to well below freezing by Friday, state media reported.

Temperatures plummeted as the city “entered a season of high incidence of respiratory infectious diseases,” Wang Quanyi, deputy director and chief epidemiological expert at the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state media on Wednesday.

Beijing “currently shows a trend of multiple pathogens coexisting,” he added.

On Thursday, at the Children’s Hospital of Beijing’s Capital Institute of Pediatrics, AFP journalists saw crowds of parents and children dressed in winter clothes.

A mother surnamed Zhang accompanied her nine-year-old son, who had a cough, and said he had contracted pneumonia.

“There are actually a lot of children who have recently contracted the disease,” she said.

Li Meiling, 42, brought her eight-year-old daughter, who was suffering from mycoplasma pneumonia – a pathogen that can cause sore throat, fatigue and fever.

“It’s true that many children her age are sick right now,” she told AFP.

On November 21, the media and public disease surveillance system ProMED reported clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China.

The WHO said it was unclear whether the ProMED report was related to the authorities’ press conference and that it was seeking clarification.

The agency “also requested additional information on recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that gives rise to Covid-19), RSV affecting children, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, as well as on the degree of overcrowding in the health system”, adds the statement.

Meanwhile, he urged people to take preventive measures, including vaccination, keeping a distance from patients and wearing masks.

Source: www.lindaikejisblog.com

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