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Montevideo, March 3rd 2024 - 21:13 UTC

 

 

WHO wants data from China on respiratory disease affecting children

Friday, November 24th 2023 - 10:00 UTC
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The disease could be circulating in school settings, given the absence of cases in adults The disease could be circulating in school settings, given the absence of cases in adults

The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested that Chinese health authorities explain the rapid spread of a respiratory disease among children.

After multiple hospitals were reported to be under severe stress due to an outbreak of undiagnosed childhood pneumonia the WHO “officially requested detailed information on an increase in respiratory diseases and clusters of pneumonia reported in children”.

The ProMed global surveillance system issued a notification on Tuesday night indicating an outbreak of this respiratory disease in children. ProMed has already demonstrated the relevance of its alerts in the past: in December 2019 it put doctors and scientists on notice of a mysterious virus that was later identified as Sars-Cov-2.

Faced with this situation, the WHO issued a statement “on the notification of clusters of respiratory illness in children in northern” China, while highlighting what requirements were requested from China.

The WHO also recalled that “at a press conference held on November 13, 2023, Chinese authorities from the National Health Commission reported an increase in the incidence of respiratory diseases in China.”

”The Chinese authorities attributed this increase to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae (a common bacterial infection that usually affects younger children), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing Covid-19). The authorities stressed the need to improve disease surveillance in healthcare facilities and community settings, as well as to strengthen the capacity of the healthcare system to manage patients,“ the WHO also said.

The international agency also highlighted that news outlets ”and ProMed reported outbreaks of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China,“ a situation that ”it is unclear whether these are related to the overall increase in respiratory infections reported earlier by Chinese authorities, or are separate episodes.“

In an editorial note, ProMed expressed its concern about the speed and scale of the outbreak, suggesting that the disease could be circulating in school settings, given the absence of cases in adults.

Taiwan's FTV News reported an increasing number of children admitted for pneumonia, with high fever and lung nodule development, but without the usual symptoms such as coughing.

Scientists are considering it highly likely that the outbreak is linked to Mycoplasma pneumoniae, known as ”atypical pneumonia“ or ”walking pneumonia,” as this pathogen has shown an increase in China following the first winter without strict Covid-19 containment measures.

During the covid 19 pandemic, whose first cases were detected in China at the end of 2019, the WHO reproached Beijing on numerous occasions for its lack of transparency and cooperation, particularly in the investigation to determine the origins of the virus, which has not yet reached definitive conclusions.

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