Northern areas of the China have reported an increase in influenza-like illness since mid-October 2023 when compared to the same period in the previous three years. This influenza-like illness is known as Pneumonia.
Looking at the pneumonia cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) on 22 November 2023 called on China to adhere to measures aimed at lowering the risk of respiratory illness.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects one or both lungs resulting in the filling of air sacs (alveoli) with fluid or pus caused by bacteria and viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Adenovirus, Influenza, Rhinovirus, COVID and bacteria like Mycoplasma pneumonia.
According to health experts, one of the prime symptoms of pneumonia could be fever, sore throat, myalgia, fatigue, etc. Children suffering from this illness can also experience, cough, and difficulty in breathing. People suffering from this respiratory disease, they can also have additive symptoms like loose stool and vomiting.
Presently, there has been an upsurge of influenza-like illness cases in children from Beijing and Liaoning Province of China, named ‘mysterious pneumonia’, because the definite cause is still under investigation.
This ‘mysterious pneumonia’ presents with high-grade fever and abnormal chest radiograph with no or minimal cough.
WHO on pneumonia cases in China
According to WHO, the organization requested the government for further information regarding the increased influenza-like illness cases among children. It also stressed the need for strict surveillance in the State. WHO stressed the need for enhanced disease surveillance in healthcare facilities and community settings, as well as strengthening the capacity of the healthcare system to manage patients.
On 13 November 2023, the Chinese authorities reported an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China in a press conference. According to the authorities the spike was seen as soon as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the State.
China reported the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia (a common bacterial infection which typically affects younger children), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
After the COVID outbreak, the states have to be cautious about all the healthcare situations. Chinese economy is already dealing with recession post COVID another illness outbreak will be dangerous.
Talking about the increased pneumonia cases in China, WHO is already in contact with clinicians and scientists through their existing technical partnerships and networks in China as in the past, China’s inability to limit COVID-19 transmission had caused major problems to the world.
Through the International Health Regulations system, WHO sought more epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results, from these reported clusters among children and other vulnerable groups.
The WHO has encouraged people in impacted areas to take cautious steps in response to the epidemic. People are asked to practice excellent hygiene, seek medical assistance for respiratory problems, and be informed about the issue.
WHO seeks on more information on influenzas-like disease and 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 handwashing.
In schools too, teachers are asking children if start showing symptoms of influenza-like disease to stay at home and any other children if came in contact with that child to stay at home for about 7 days.
It is high time that China keeps a close eye on the number of cases and take appropriate precautions to avoid this influenza-like disease to turn into another pandemic after Covid-19. The health and economy are both to be kept in consideration.