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WHO calls for information on rising respiratory illnesses in China

The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked China for information on an increase in respiratory illnesses among children.

In a press release issued Thursday, the health agency said Chinese health authorities reported an increase in respiratory illnesses and cases of pneumonia among children earlier this month.

Health officials attributed the increase to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens, such as influenza, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common bacterial infection that usually affects young children, the press release states.

“On November 22, WHO requested additional epidemiological and clinical information, as well as laboratory results on these reported outbreaks in children, through the mechanism of the International Health Regulations,” the health agency said in its Press release. “We also requested additional information on recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, as well as the current burden on systems health. »

China’s National Health Commission said Thursday that children with mild symptoms should first go to primary health care facilities or pediatric departments of general hospitals, as large hospitals may be overcrowded and have long wait times, according to the Associated Press.

According to Chinese state media, the average number of patients in the internal medicine department of Beijing Children’s Hospital exceeded 7,000 per day, a number that exceeds the hospital’s capacity.

The WHO also said it plans to be in contact with clinicians and scientists through its existing partnerships and technical networks in China, recommending that Chinese authorities follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness .

“While WHO seeks this additional information, we recommend that Chinese people follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, including recommended vaccination; keep your distance from sick people; staying home when sick; get tested and receive medical care if necessary; wear masks where appropriate; ensure good ventilation; and regular hand washing,” the press release states. “WHO will continue to provide updates.”

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