China responded to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) request for more details about the increase in respiratory illnesses among children by stating that no abnormal or new pathogens have been detected.
Some of these rises are happening earlier in the year than usual, but this is not unexpected considering the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, as observed in other countries.
"No changes in the disease presentation were reported by the Chinese health authorities. Chinese authorities advised that there has been no detection of any unusual or novel pathogens or unusual clinical presentations, including in Beijing and Liaoning, but only the aforementioned general increase in respiratory illnesses due to multiple known pathogens," the WHO official press release read.
The Global Health Organization had a virtual meeting on November 23 with Chinese health officials from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the Beijing Children's Hospital. The meeting was coordinated by the National Health Commission and the National Administration of Disease Control and Prevention. During the meeting, the Chinese officials shared data showing a rise in the number of children seeking outpatient consultations and being admitted to hospitals due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
They also mentioned that the increase in respiratory diseases has not led to hospitals being overwhelmed with patients.
The Chinese government has recommended that increased monitoring of both outpatients and inpatients with respiratory illnesses be carried out since mid-October. This surveillance covers a wide range of viruses and bacteria, including Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which is being included for the first time.
WHO has requested additional information about the specific groups of children impacted by the disease on November 22. This information includes details about how the disease is spreading, the symptoms that the children are experiencing, and the outcomes of laboratory tests. The request was made using the International Health Regulations mechanism.
WHO asked for more details on recent patterns in the spread of familiar viruses like influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV, and mycoplasma pneumoniae, as well as the impact on healthcare systems.
"WHO is also in contact with clinicians and scientists through our existing technical partnerships and networks in China," according to the release.
Since mid-October, there has been a rise in influenza-like illnesses in northern China when compared to the same timeframe in the past three years. China has established systems to gather data on influenza, influenza-like illnesses, RSV, and SARS-CoV-2, and share this information with platforms like the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.
The organization advised individuals in China to take certain precautions in order to lower the chances of contracting respiratory illnesses. These precautions include getting vaccinated as recommended, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, staying at home when feeling unwell, getting tested and seeking medical attention when necessary, wearing masks when appropriate, ensuring proper ventilation, and practicing regular hand-washing.
According to the release, the WHO will continue to furnish updates.
The National Health Commission of China stated during a press conference on November 13 that there has been a rise in the number of respiratory illnesses in the country.
According to a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Chinese government has linked the rise in cases to the easing of COVID restrictions and the spread of familiar diseases like the flu, mycoplasma pneumonia (a bacterial infection that commonly affects young children), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19).
Officials emphasized the importance of improving disease monitoring in healthcare facilities and community settings, along with bolstering the healthcare system's ability to handle patients.