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Growing Concerns Surround the Respiratory Illness in China

Last Monday, the WHO requested information from China over “an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), China has seen an increase in the number of children sick with mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacteria that causes mild infections of the respiratory system, as well as pediatric cases of RSV, adenovirus, influenza, and COVID-19 since May.

As China enters its first complete winter season since relaxing COVID-19 regulations, a wave of respiratory ailments caused by flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other infections has swept throughout several areas of the Country, primarily afflicting children.

Despite media reports of “undiagnosed pneumonia” patients flooding hospitals in recent weeks, health officials in the Country have insisted that the increase is due to routine ailments.

Mi Feng, a spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission appeared at a news conference on Sunday where he said there were no new infections or odd diseases detected.
“According to the analysis, acute respiratory diseases in China have continued to rise recently, which is related to the superposition of multiple respiratory pathogens,” he added.

With winter approaching and an increase in the number of respiratory illnesses, China’s National Health Commission and the National Administration of Disease Control and Prevention are continuing to monitor these diseases, promote vaccination, dispatch medical resources, and ensure people receive treatment, according to the Spokesman.

Mi Feng advised parents to take their children to grassroots medical and health centers or general hospitals for pediatric services if they have minor symptoms, rather than hospitals in heavily populated regions with significant wait periods.

He additionally urged individuals to use recognized and established mitigation measures, including wearing masks, extending ventilation, and washing their hands often.

When COVID-19 began to spread in January 2020, China implemented some of the strictest guidelines in the world to avoid outbreaks. They were known as “zero COVID” rules, and they included lockdowns and mass testing. The authorities lifted its zero COVID regulations in January 2023, and the last of its main pandemic-era security measures were phased out this summer.

Off discussions with local health officials, the World Health Organisation pointed out that while the rise in cases was earlier than it is common in the season, it was “not unexpected given the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, as similarly experienced in other countries.”

Cases reported about Children have been quite high in northern locations such as Beijing and Liaoning province, where facilities caution on situations of lengthy waiting times to be given care.

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