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WHO seeks China data on ‘pneumonia clusters’ in children

The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked China for more information on “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia” reportedly spreading amongst children in the north of the country.

Non-state media reports say children’s hospitals in parts of the country are overwhelmed with sick children.

Chinese authorities have attributed a spike in flu-like illnesses this winter to the lifting of Covid measures.

The WHO is urging people in China to take measures to reduce transmission.

In a statement the UN health agency says it wants more information on reports in the media and from ProMed – a global outbreak surveillance system – of “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China”.

Since October, northern China has reported an “increase in influenza-like illness” compared to the same period over the past three years, it adds.

Last week, China’s National Health Commission said there had been a rise in several respiratory diseases across the country – in particular influenza, Covid, mycoplasma pneumoniae – a common bacterial infection affecting younger children – and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Officials attributed the rise to the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Other countries, including the UK and the US, saw similar surges in flu-like illnesses once pandemic restrictions were lifted.

The WHO says it is unclear if the reported pneumonia outbreak and overall increase in respiratory infections reported by Beijing are linked – and has made an official request for more detailed information.

It has urged people in China to take basic precautions like getting vaccinated, wearing masks and hand-washing.


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