Crowds gather during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.
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Chinese authorities reportedly called for vigilance on Friday as a sharp rise in the respiratory disease continues to strain healthcare facilities in the country’s north, despite assurances that no “unusual or new pathogens” have been identified.
The World Health Organization he said On Thursday that Beijing had responded to its request for data after reports of “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children’s hospitals in Beijing, Liaoning and other places in China.” Chinese health authorities said no changes in the outbreak of the disease have been reported, according to the WHO.
China is experiencing an explosion of respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia clusters among children, with hospitals particularly in northern China reporting that “contrite” with patients.
The WHO said the increase was likely linked to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions as China experiences its first full winter season since declaring an end to the pandemic in December.
The UN health agency said current data suggest the pathogens are currently behaving in typical ways that can be treated with existing antibiotics, but added that China should step up measures to contain the spread of the disease, including vaccines and mask use.
It also said it was not recommending specific measures for travelers to China and advised against any travel or trade restrictions at this time.
China’s State Council said in a briefing on Friday that flu cases, which have been rising since October, will likely peak this winter and spring, according to Reuters. However, he added that pneumonia infections, which have been on the rise since May, could persist further in the future.
It said local authorities should “strengthen the reporting of infectious disease information to ensure that information is reported in a timely and accurate manner”.
Both China and the WHO have come under scrutiny over their reporting of the first cases of Covid-19 in 2020.
The WHO said it will continue to monitor the current outbreak in China and is working with international partners to assess emerging information.
The UK’s Health Security Agency said in a statement Friday that it was important to “keep an open mind” for new cases.
It follows a rise in strep A infections among children in the UK in 2022, which the health agency attributed to a change in social mixing patterns.