The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested information from China about an increase in respiratory illnesses in children.
In a Thursday news release, the health agency said Chinese health officials reported an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in kids earlier this month.
Health officials attributed this 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 typically affects younger children, the news release said.
“On 22 November, WHO requested additional epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results from these reported clusters among children, through the International Health Regulations mechanism,” the health agency said in its news releasew. “We have also requested further information about recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the current burden on health care systems.”
China’s National Health Commission said Thursday that children experiencing mild symptoms should visit primary health care institutions or general hospital pediatrics departments first because larger hospitals may be crowded and have long waiting times, according to The Associated Press.
According to Chinese state media, the average number of patients in the internal medicine department at Beijing Children’s Hospital topped 7,000 per day, a number that exceeds the hospital’s capacity.
WHO also said it plans to be in contact with clinicians and scientists through its existing technical partnerships and networks in China, recommending Chinese officials to follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness.
“While WHO seeks this additional information, we recommend that people in China follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, which include recommended vaccination; keeping distance from people who are ill; staying home when ill; getting tested and medical care as needed; wearing masks as appropriate; ensuring good ventilation; and regular hand-washing,” the news release noted. “WHO will continue to provide updates.”
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