The respiratory outbreak in China is increasingly worrying and has sparked fears of the emergence of a new pandemic. Photo/Reuters
BEIJING – China’s Health Ministry is urging local authorities to increase the number of fever clinics as the country grapples with its first winter spike in respiratory illnesses since easing COVID-19 restrictions.
The surge became a global concern last week when the World Health Organization (WHO) asked China for more information, citing reports of clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children by the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases.
China and the WHO faced questions about reporting transparency early in the pandemic, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The WHO said on Friday that no new or unusual pathogens had been found in the recent illnesses.
National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Sunday that the spike in acute respiratory illnesses was related to the circulation of several types of pathogens simultaneously, the most prominent of which was influenza.
“Efforts should be made to increase the number of relevant clinics and treatment areas, appropriately extend service hours and strengthen medicine supply guarantees,” Mi said at a press conference, reported by Reuters.
“It is important to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in crowded places such as schools, child care institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.”
Cases among children appear particularly high in northern regions such as Beijing and Liaoning province, where hospitals warn of long waiting times.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, said on Friday that influenza would peak this winter and spring, while mycoplasma pneumoniae infections would remain high in some areas. The report also warns of the risk of a return of COVID infections.
“All regions should strengthen information reporting regarding infectious diseases to ensure information is reported in a timely and accurate manner,” the State Council said in a statement.
On Thursday, WHO said data provided by China showed that recent cases were linked to the lifting of COVID restrictions 11 months ago, along with the circulation of known pathogens such as mycoplasma pneumoniae, a common bacterial infection that usually affects children, which has been circulating since May. .