24 Nov 2023

New illness affects kids in China; hospitals overwhelmed with sick children; WHO seeks info

The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally requested additional information from Beijing regarding an outbreak of pneumonia in northern China that is predominantly affecting children.

Children's hospitals in Beijing, Liaoning, and other northern regions are reportedly overwhelmed with sick children. Some media reports have raised concerns among parents, questioning whether authorities are concealing the extent of an epidemic. ProMed emphasized the need for definitive information on this alarming illness, prompting the WHO to request more details on the situation.

WHO expressed need for detailed information

In an official statement, the WHO expressed the need for detailed information on the surge in respiratory illnesses and pneumonia in children. The request comes amid a notable increase in influenza-like illnesses in China compared to the preceding three years, during which stringent measures were implemented as part of the country's zero-COVID strategy, which concluded in December 2022.

Not only COVID-19 but other pathogens also spreading

The Chinese National Health Commission, in a recent press conference, acknowledged a rise in respiratory diseases. They attributed this increase to the relaxation of COVID-19 measures and the spread of not only COVID-19 but also other pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia (a common bacterial infection affecting younger children), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Growing number of pneumonia cases remain undiagnosed

ProMed, an online medical community known for identifying the illness in Wuhan in 2019 that later became COVID-19, has said a growing number of pneumonia cases in northern China remain undiagnosed.

The COVID-19 epidemic, initially labeled as an unexplained pneumonia in late 2019, saw its genetic code publicly shared in January 2020 after the first death.

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