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What we know about the surge of respiratory illnesses in China

Chinese health officials attribute the increase in children's hospital admissions to bacterial infection, RSV, influenza, and common cold viruses.
What we know about the surge of respiratory illnesses in China
Posted at 2:56 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 17:22:27-05

China is currently experiencing a rise in respiratory illnesses, but it is not as severe as during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization confirms no new or unusual pathogens are involved, while China's health ministry attributes the increase to the flu and known pathogens, ruling out a novel virus.

Last week, the WHO asked China to provide information about a recent increase in respiratory illnesses and pneumonia clusters in children, following media reports about their clinics and hospitals being overwhelmed with pediatric patients with such illnesses and causing concern worldwide.

The WHO then reported that Chinese health officials provided the requested data, revealing a rise in children's hospital admissions for diseases such as bacterial infection, RSV, influenza, and common cold viruses.

“Some of these increases are earlier in the season than historically experienced, but not unexpected given the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, as similarly experienced in other countries,” the WHO stated in a press release. “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.”

On Sunday, China’s health ministry urged local authorities to increase the number of fever clinics and encourage vaccinations for children and the elderly as the country faces a surge in respiratory illnesses during its first full winter post the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, according to The Associated Press. 

Local officials are advising people to continue wearing masks.


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