The World Health Organisation said on Thursday that, in response to an official request for information by the UN health agency regarding a potentially concerning spike in respiratory illnesses and clusters of pneumonia in children.
Chinese officials said they had not discovered any “unusual or novel diseases” in the nation.
People all around the world are experiencing a familiar feeling as China experiences an increase in respiratory diseases as it begins its first proper winter season following the easing of Covid-19 limits in December of last year. Here is what we currently know about the circumstances.
China‘s north-eastern areas have seen a surge of infections, with Beijing and Liaoning, which are 800 kilometres apart, serving as two of the main centres. One major hospital in Beijing has reported that on average every day they are seeing about 1,200 patients enter their emergency room.
Most impacted by the new outbreak
In China, the number of cases of respiratory ailments recorded has increased.
The ailments, which were first announced at a press conference by China’s National Health Commission on November 13, have resulted in an increase in hospital admissions, with several institutions issuing wait times. This week, the WHO requested further information from China regarding undetected pneumonia cases in children, citing a report by the Programme for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED).
A significant fraction of hospitalised patients are children, and the number of cases among them is particularly high. Beijing’s schools are reporting significant absenteeism rates; in extreme cases, classes may be cancelled for at least a week in the event that some kids are absent.
According to some specialists, the high prevalence among children is really a good thing, meaning that older people may have some immunity to the diseases that are spreading widely. This would thus imply that people are likely to benefit from the current vaccinations in terms of disease prevention. But in addition to kids, pregnant women and the elderly might also be at risk.
Chinese authorities have linked the spread of recognised diseases such mycoplasma pneumoniae, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to the rise in the occurrence of respiratory disorders. Although China has been ordered to provide additional disease data by the World Health Organisation, no new illnesses have been discovered to date.
The majority of patients under the age of 18 are probably suffering from mycoplasma pneumoniae, a common bacterial infection that usually affects younger children, according to WHO. The outbreak has been attributed by Chinese officials and numerous international health experts to the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations, akin to the “lockdown exit waves” observed in other nations.
Francois Belloux, director of University College London’s Genetic Institute, tweeted that China might be making up for a prolonged and strict lockdown that “must have drastically reduced the circulation of respiratory bugs and hence decreased immunity to endemic bugs.”
In addition, the arrival of winter is also a contributing factor.