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WHO asks China for more data on respiratory illness

BEIJING, November 24 ------ The World Health Organization has asked China for more data on a respiratory illness spreading in the north of the country, urging Chinese to take steps to reduce the risk of infection.

Northern China has reported an increase in "influenza-like illness" since mid-October when compared to the same period in the previous three years, according to the WHO. "WHO has made an official request to China for detailed information on an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children," the UN health body said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beijing's National Health Commission (NHC) told reporters last week that the respiratory illness spike was due to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza and common bacterial infections that affect children. China's capital has "entered a high incidence season of respiratory infectious diseases", Wang Quanyi, deputy director and chief epidemiological expert at the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state-run outlet Beijing News on Wednesday. Beijing "is currently showing a trend of multiple pathogens coexisting", he added.

On November 21, media and public disease surveillance system ProMED reported clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China. The WHO said it was unclear if ProMED's report was related to the authorities' press conference and that it was seeking clarification. The agency "has also requested additional information on recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that gives rise to COVID-19), RSV affecting infants and Mycoplasma pneumonia, as well as on the degree of overcrowding in the health system," the statement added.



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