Mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China, WHO seeks details: 10 points
Mysterious pneumonia in China: WHO asked China to take measures as a spike of influenza-like illness has been reported among children.
China has reported an outbreak of influenza-like illness mostly among children prompting the World Health Organization to seek more details from the country about the mysterious outbreak. According to reports, Chinese hospitals are "overwhelmed with sick children" who have symptoms of respiratory illness. WHO said Chinese authorities from the National Health Commission held a press conference on November 12 and reported an increase in respiratory diseases in the country. They attributed this to the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions.
WHO has sought additional information on recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that gives rise to Covid-19), RSV affecting infants and Mycoplasma pneumonia, as well as on the degree of overcrowding in the health system, the statement added.
Mysterious pneumonia in China: What we know so far
1. ProMed, which is a publicly available surveillance system conducting global reporting of infectious disease outbreaks, issued an alert over the "undiagnosed pneumonia" in children. ProMed alerted about SARs-CoV-2 in December 2019 long before the pandemic swept the world.
2. Taiwanese FTV News reported that hospitals in Beijing and Liaoning have been struggling with an influx of children sick with pneumonia.
3. Since Beijing and Lianoning are 800km apart, the mysterious pneumonia is not being seen as a local outbreak.
4. While not much is known about the outbreak, people cited by FTV said the sick children do not have any symptoms or cough. But they have a high temperature and pulmonary nodules.
5. "The lobby of Dalian Children's Hospital is full of sick children receiving intravenous drips. There are also queues of patients at the traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and the central hospitals. A staff member of Dalian Central Hospital said: 'Patients have to wait in line for 2 hours, and we are all in the emergency department and there are no general outpatient clinics'," the ProMed mail alert read.
6. Some teachers have also been infected, reportedly as the outbreaks have majorly been reported in schools. Some schools have been shut. It is not known when the outbreak started.
7. “This report suggests a widespread outbreak of an undiagnosed respiratory illness ... It is not at all clear when this outbreak started as it would be unusual for so many children to be affected so quickly," the ProMed note said.
8. Epidemiologist Eric-Feigl-Dingh shared videos from hospitals and messages from locals in a long thread on X and broke down the situation.
9. A China Daily report said 'Beijing has entered the peak season for respiratory infection diseases, with multiple pathogens co-circulating...' without acknowledging any mysterious outbreak.
10. According to experts more information is needed to assess the situation as it could be a new outbreak or walking pneumonia or a surge in respiratory diseases as this is China's first winter without stringent Covid lockdown.