china: Another outbreak in China; government seeks ‘complete’ info from WHO on mysterious illness

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The government has sought “complete and detailed information” from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the mysterious respiratory illness that is spreading in China, even as it has said there is no need to panic, said people with knowledge of the matter. “We will be reviewing once we have the complete information on the illness from the WHO. We have sought the same from the health agency,” said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified.

A senior health ministry official said the government is “fully vigilant and observing the situation” and that there is nothing to worry as of now. “It is difficult to comment on what it means for India as of now. There is a lack of clarity on what the organism is but mycoplasma is not a new organism,” a public health expert said on condition of anonymity.

Since mid-October, northern China has been reporting an increase in influenza-like illness compared with the corresponding period in the previous three years.

As reported by China Daily earlier, the symptoms of the disease usually include a sore throat, fatigue, fever and a lingering cough that can last for months, and the infection is most commonly treated with antibiotics.

On Wednesday, the WHO said it has asked China to provide additional data on the illness. It has asked for epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results from the reported clusters among children. The Chinese authorities from the National Health Commission had reported an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in the country on November 13, attributing the increase to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

The WHO sought further information about recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the current burden on health care systems, the international health agency said in a statement. “WHO is also in contact with clinicians and scientists through our existing technical partnerships and networks in China,” it said.According to the WHO, northern China has reported an increase in influenza-like illness compared to the same period in the previous three years. “China has systems in place to capture information on trends in influenza, influenza-like illnesses, RSV and SARS-CoV-2, and reports to platforms such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System,” it said. The WHO has asked people in China to follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, including 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 hand-washing.

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