China is currently experiencing its first winter without strict COVID-19 restrictions since the pandemic began three years ago. Unfortunately, the country is now facing a surge in respiratory illnesses. This sudden increase in cases has caught the attention of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is urging China to provide more information on the outbreak and take necessary measures to control it.
While the exact cause of this trend is still unknown, some health experts believe that it could be a common and temporary side effect of lifting lockdown restrictions. However, the lack of clarity around the infections and their spread has led others to draw comparisons with the early days of the pandemic.
LATEST UPDATES NOV,2023: New Virus In China Latest Update 2023
What do we know about China’s new virus:
- At a press conference held on November 13, the National Health Commission of China announced an increase in respiratory diseases.
- The Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) reported on Sunday about clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China. It is uncertain whether this information coincided with the details shared during the press conference.
- According to the ProMED report, infections have been spreading in Beijing and the city of Liaoning, which are approximately 800km (500 miles) apart.
- Although official figures regarding the number of cases are not yet available, hospitals in Beijing have observed a significant increase in patients, particularly in the children’s wards. Al Jazeera correspondent Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing on Thursday, mentioned that one major hospital in the city reported an average of 1,200 patients entering their emergency room every day.
- Schools in Beijing are also experiencing high levels of absenteeism, with some classes being dismissed for at least a week if students fall ill. Parents have been advised to exercise extra caution, as stated by Yu.
- Health officials are concerned that the winter season may further contribute to the spread of these infections, especially after a warning from China’s national weather authority about the upcoming drop in temperatures starting on Thursday.
increase in respiratory diseases in china
According to the Chinese National Health Commission, the increase in cases can be attributed to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Health professionals have also acknowledged this possibility, drawing parallels to the “lockdown exit wave” observed in countries like the United Kingdom.
Francois Belloux, the director of University College London’s Genetic Institute, suggested that China might be experiencing an “immunity debt” following their prolonged lockdown. This debt could have significantly reduced the circulation of respiratory bugs, leading to a decrease in immunity against endemic bugs.
Belloux’s statement was posted on X, where he further emphasized the importance of considering the current situation.
According to the latest information, there is currently no reason to suspect the emergence of a new and unknown pathogen. The bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which mainly affects younger children, is generally considered to be harmless.
However, Chinese authorities have included mycoplasma, along with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2, in the list of circulating pathogens. The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested more information from China regarding the recent patterns of these microorganisms.
While it is possible that a new pathogen may be present, we should also consider the possibility of an existing pathogen that has mutated with modified characteristics and severity.
China’s pneumonia outbreak 2023
The World Health Organization has requested more information from China regarding a recent outbreak of flu-like illness that has primarily affected children. Reports indicate that hospitals in China are struggling to cope with the influx of sick children exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
The National Health Commission of China held a press conference on November 12th, during which they acknowledged an increase in respiratory illnesses in the country, which they attributed to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. WHO is closely monitoring the situation and seeking further details from Chinese authorities.
- ProMed, a global surveillance system that monitors infectious disease outbreaks, issued an alert regarding “undiagnosed pneumonia” in children. Interestingly, ProMed had already alerted about SARs-CoV-2 in December 2019, long before the pandemic hit the world.
- According to Taiwanese FTV News, hospitals in Beijing and Liaoning are struggling with a sudden increase in children suffering from pneumonia.
- The fact that Beijing and Lianoning are 800km apart suggests that the mysterious pneumonia is not a local outbreak.
- Although little is known about the outbreak, FTV reports that the sick children do not exhibit any symptoms or cough, but they have a high temperature and pulmonary nodules.
- The ProMed mail alert stated that the lobby of Dalian Children’s Hospital is full of sick children receiving intravenous drips, and there are queues of patients at traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and central hospitals. A staff member of Dalian Central Hospital said that patients have to wait in line for 2 hours, and there are no general outpatient clinics.
- Noutbreak has reportedly affected teachers as well, with many cases being reported in schools. Some schools have been closed, but it is unclear when the outbreak started.
- ProMed noted that this report suggests a widespread outbreak of an undiagnosed respiratory illness, and it is not clear when the outbreak started as it would be unusual for so many children to be affected so quickly.
- Epidemiologist Eric-Feigl-Dingh shared videos from hospitals and messages from locals in a long thread on X, providing a detailed breakdown of the situation.
- A China Daily report stated that “Beijing has entered the peak season for respiratory infection diseases, with multiple pathogens co-circulating,” without acknowledging any mysterious outbreak.
- Experts believe that more information is needed to assess the situation, as it could be a new outbreak, walking pneumonia, or a surge in respiratory diseases.
UPDATED ON 30 NOV, 2023-
China pneumonia outbreak in india
In response to the Centre’s directive regarding the surge in respiratory illnesses in China, six states in India have taken action to review their healthcare preparedness. These states include Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu, all of which have put their healthcare infrastructure on alert.