June 13, 2024

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WHO asks China for data on ‘undiagnosed pneumonia’ cases

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The World Health Organization has asked China for information on a rise in respiratory illness among children, in a sign of the heightened vigilance over outbreaks of infectious disease since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global health body made the request after reports of “undiagnosed pneumonia” in northern China from ProMed, the outbreak surveillance network that first alerted the world to Covid.

China’s National Health Commission said on Thursday it was “paying close attention” to the overcrowding in children’s hospitals and recommended that patients with milder symptoms go to general hospitals and clinics instead.

The Capital Institute of Pediatrics, one of Beijing’s main children’s hospitals, was full of parents and sick children when the Financial Times visited on Thursday.

China’s health commission this month reported an increase in respiratory disease cases. It attributed these to a rise in infections involving pathogens including influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae — a common bacterial infection that typically affects younger children — and Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid.

The WHO’s data request, made under the International Health Regulations mechanism, reflects a focus on prompt investigation of possible respiratory illness surges after Covid spread from China in late 2019 to cause a global health crisis. The health body declared an international public health emergency at the end of January 2020 and a pandemic two months later.

The UN health agency said it was unclear whether the latest reported problems in children were associated with an overall increase in respiratory infections cited by the Chinese authorities or separate events.

The WHO had requested additional epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results from the reported clusters among children, the body said late on…

2023-11-23 07:10:21

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