The World Health Organization (WHO) has made an official request for information from China after reports of an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children.
On 21 November, media and ProMED reported ‘clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China’.
The next day (22 November), the WHO requested ‘additional epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results from these reported clusters among children, through the International Health Regulations mechanism’. Additionally, it has asked for information on the ‘recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the current burden on health care system’.
Northern China has been reporting increases in influenza-like illnesses compared to the same periods over the last three years. And on 13 November, Chinese authorities from the National Health Commission announced an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in the country. They 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 which typically affects younger children); respiratory syncytial virus (RSV); and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19).
While the WHO is seeking this information from China, it has this advice for 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.”