WHO asks China to provide more data on respiratory disease outbreak

The World Health Organization asked China to provide more data on the respiratory disease prevalent in the country’s north, but the Chinese government had no public comment on Thursday.

According to the WHO, an increase in “influenza-like illnesses” has been reported in northern China since mid-October compared to the same period in the past three years.

“WHO has formally requested China to provide detailed information on the increase in respiratory illnesses and reports of cluster pneumonia in children,” the U.N. health agency said in a statement Wednesday.

China’s National Health Commission told reporters last week that the surge in respiratory illnesses is due to the lifting of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) restrictions and known pathogens affecting children, including influenza and Mycoplasma pneumonia. He said it was due to an outbreak of a common bacterial infection.

Beijing, the capital of China in the north, is currently experiencing a cold wave, with temperatures expected to plummet to below freezing by Friday, state media said.

Wang Quanyi, deputy director and chief epidemiologist at the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state media that the city had “entered a period of high incidence of respiratory infections.”

“Currently, there is a tendency for multiple pathogens to coexist,” he added.

The WHO gave no indication of China’s response to the request for further information.

China’s National Health Commission did not respond to AFP’s request for comment on Thursday.

Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also instructed journalists to refer inquiries to “competent Chinese authorities.”

– “Because of the season” –
On Thursday, AFP reporters witnessed a crowd of parents and children wearing winter clothes at the Children’s Hospital of the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in Beijing.

A parent named Zhang said he was attending to his 9-year-old son who had a cough and contracted mycoplasma pneumonia, a pathogen that causes a sore throat, fatigue and fever.

“There are so many kids getting infected these days,” she said. “Of course I’m worried about that!”

Li Meiling, 42, was accompanied by her 8-year-old daughter, who also had the same type of pneumonia.

“It’s true that many children my age are suffering from this disease right now,” she told AFP.

But she added that she was “not particularly worried” about the WHO’s announcement.

“It’s winter, so it’s normal for respiratory disease cases to increase. It’s because of the season.”

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

WHO said it was unclear whether the ProMED report was related to the agency’s press conference and was seeking clarification.

The agency also provided “additional information regarding recent trends in the prevalence of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), respiratory syncytial virus that affects infants, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.” “I’m looking for it.” the extent of overcrowding of the healthcare system,” the statement added.

He urged people to take preventive measures such as getting vaccinated, staying away from sick people and wearing masks.

– Seeking transparency –
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has repeatedly criticized Chinese authorities for their lack of transparency and cooperation.

More than three years after the first case was confirmed in Wuhan, intense debate continues over the origins of the new coronavirus.

Scientists have two main theories about the cause. One possibility is that such a virus escaped from a lab in the city where it was being studied, and the other is that an intermediate animal infected people at a local market.

Earlier this year, WHO experts said they believed the Chinese government had far more data that could shed light on the origins of the coronavirus, and that it was a moral obligation to share the information. he claimed.

A WHO-led team of experts, accompanied by Chinese colleagues, investigated China in early 2021 but has not been able to return since, and WHO officials have repeatedly asked for additional data.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that solving the mystery could help avoid future pandemics.

Source: guardian.ng

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