The Chinese health ministry announced on Sunday that the recent increase in respiratory illnesses throughout China, which has caught the attention of the World Health Organization, is due to the flu and other identifiable pathogens rather than a new virus.
A spokesperson from the National Health Commission reported that the recent outbreaks of respiratory infections are due to a combination of common viruses like influenza, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, and bacteria such as mycoplasma pneumoniae. This bacteria is often responsible for respiratory tract infections.
The ministry urged local officials to increase the number of clinics for treating fevers and encourage vaccinations for children and the elderly, as the country faces a surge of respiratory illnesses during its first winter without COVID-19 restrictions.
Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the ministry, stated that steps should be taken to enhance the accessibility of appropriate clinics and treatment spaces, prolong service hours, and boost the availability of medications.
He recommended individuals to don face coverings and urged local officials to prioritize halting the transmission of illnesses in dense settings like educational institutions and elderly care facilities.
Earlier this week, the WHO officially asked China to share details about a potential increase in respiratory illnesses and cases of pneumonia in children. This information was mentioned in various media reports and a worldwide infectious disease monitoring organization.
New strains of the flu or other viruses that have the potential to cause pandemics often begin with unidentifiable groups of respiratory sickness. SARS and COVID-19 were initially identified as atypical forms of pneumonia.
The Chinese government recently attributed the rise in respiratory illnesses to the removal of COVID-19 lockdown measures. Similarly, other nations experienced an increase in respiratory diseases, such as RSV, following the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
During a teleconference, the WHO announced that Chinese health officials have provided the requested data. The data revealed a rise in hospitalizations among children for diseases such as bacterial infections, RSV, influenza, and common cold viruses since October.
According to the WHO, Chinese authorities stated that the increase in patients did not overwhelm the country’s hospitals.
The U.N. health agency rarely makes public requests for additional information from countries, usually handling such inquiries internally. However, the WHO announced that it has utilized an international legal mechanism to ask China for more detailed data.
Based on internal reports from China, there is evidence of overwhelmed hospitals in the northern region, specifically in Beijing. Health officials are advising parents to take their children with milder symptoms to clinics and other healthcare facilities.
The WHO stated that there is currently insufficient information to accurately evaluate the risk of the reported cases of respiratory illness in children.
There have been allegations of insufficient transparency in the initial reports from both Chinese officials and the WHO regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019.