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Increase in respiratory illnesses in China not as high as before pandemic: WHO official

SHANGHAI, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The increase in respiratory diseases currently suffering in China is not as high as before the COVID-19 pandemic, a World Health Organization official said, reiterating that No new or unusual pathogens have been discovered in recent years. case.

Maria Van Kerkhove, acting director of the WHO’s department of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, said the increase appears to be due to an increase in the number of children contracting pathogens they had avoided for two years of COVID restrictions.

“We asked for comparisons before the pandemic. And the waves they are seeing now, the peak is not as high as the one they saw in 2018-2019,” Van Kerkhove told the news media on STAT Health Friday in an interview.

“This is not an indication of a new pathogen. This is normal. This is what most countries faced a year or two ago,” she added.

Chinese National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Sunday that the increase in acute respiratory illnesses was linked to the simultaneous circulation of several types of pathogens, particularly influenza.

The spike became a global problem last week when the World Health Organization requested more information from China, citing a report on clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children by the Emerging Disease Surveillance Program.

China and the WHO faced questions over reporting transparency at the start of 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 discovered in recent illnesses.

Health officials on Sunday urged local authorities to increase the number of specialized fever clinics, as hospitals warn of long waits in northern regions like Beijing and Liaoning province, where cases among children seem particularly high.

Spread by young adults in the workplace and children in school, new cases of respiratory illnesses could peak in the coming weeks, said Li Tongzeng, chief doctor of the hospital’s infectious diseases department. You’an from Beijing, to the Global Times newspaper.

In the report released Monday, Li also warned of the possibility of a second wave peaking during the New Year holiday, as older people could become more at risk of infection during family gatherings.

Reporting by Andrew Silver; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Miral Fahmy and Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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