China Reports Mysterious Pneumonia Outbreak, Triggering Covid-19-Like Fear; WHO Raises Concern

China Reports Mysterious Pneumonia Outbreak, Triggering Covid-19-Like Fear; WHO Raises Concern

The infected children suffer from unusual symptoms, including lung inflammation and high fever, but don't have the usual cough and other symptoms associated with flu, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses.

Aditi ThakurUpdated: Thursday, November 23, 2023, 06:49 PM IST
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A mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China is largely impacting children. Infected children report unusual symptoms, including lung inflammation and high fever | AFP

China is reportedly dealing with another health emergency after the Covid-19 pandemic. A mysterious pneumonia outbreak has swept China's northern region, endangering young children. Following reports, Chinese hospitals are overwhelmed with sick children, showing major symptoms of respiratory illness.

WHO seek more details

In response, the World Health Organization seeks more details regarding the mysterious outbreak in the country. According to WHO, in their November 12 press meeting, China's National Health Commission officials reported soring cases of respiratory diseases in the country. According to the officials, the cause behind the cases is the removal of the Covid-19 limitations.

The statement added the WHO had requested more information on recent trends in the spread of known infections, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that drives COVID-19), RSV affecting newborns, and Mycoplasma pneumonia, and the degree of overcrowding in the health system.

Beijing and Liaoning hospitals, which are just 500 miles northeast, are struggling to keep up with the surge in infected youngsters. Following the local media, schools are shut due to the outbreak. The infected children suffer from unusual symptoms, including lung inflammation and high fever, but don't have the usual cough and other symptoms associated with flu, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses.

ProMed issued warning

A publicly accessible surveillance system, ProMed, that conducts global reporting of infectious disease outbreaks, issued a warning about 'undiagnosed pneumonia' in youngsters.

ProMed, in its editor's note, said, "This research reveals a wide outbreak of an undetected respiratory infection... It is unclear when this outbreak began, as such a large number of children being infected so fast would be unprecedented. The report says no adults were harmed, implying some exposure at the schools."

It's too early to say whether this will be another epidemic; however, a wise influenza virologist told me, "The pandemic clock is ticking; we just don't know what time it is."

In late December 2019, a ProMed provided an important early warning regarding a novel virus, later identified as SARS-CoV-2, alerting a wide spectrum of medical professionals and scientists, including high-ranking WHO officials.

Following experts, detailed information is required to assess the situation since it might be the new outbreak of walking pneumonia or an increase in respiratory illness because this is China's first winter without strict COVID lockdown.

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