China denies 'unusual or novel pathogens' despite WHO respiratory outbreak inquiries

According to the World Health Organisation, clusters of infant pneumonia cases in China have not documented any "unusual or novel pathogens."

WHO reported that Beijing has ascribed an increase in influenza-like illnesses to the relaxation of Covid restrictions; the organisation had requested additional case data. Nonetheless, it advised Chinese citizens to take precautions such as receiving vaccinations and donning masks.

In recent days, local media outlets have reported that hospitals are overburdened. The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement on Wednesday requesting additional information from China regarding media reports and data from ProMed, a global outbreak surveillance system concerning concentrations of children in northern China who have undiagnosed pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a broad medical term that denotes a pulmonary infection accompanied by inflammation. It may be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement later on Thursday stating that no "unusual or novel pathogens" have been detected in China and that the increase in respiratory infections spreading in the country's north was caused by "multiple known pathogens."

The WHO reported that northern China has experienced a rise in influenza-like illness since October, relative to the same period in the previous three years.

The WHO stated that it is maintaining close communication with the Chinese government and is carefully monitoring the situation.

Daily, a specialised WHO team examines tens of thousands of internal surveillance reports and media reports pertaining to circulating diseases in various countries.

The experts are then tasked with determining whether further information is required, given the potential for the situation to escalate into a global public health emergency.

However, it is not customary to publicly disclose the request for additional information. This has traditionally been accomplished via confidential channels between the World Health Organisation and health authorities within a nation.

Undoubtedly, the United Nations agency is cognizant of the fact that individuals may be more apprehensive regarding viruses that have been reported in China in the near future due to the recollection of Covid-19. Additionally, the WHO is attempting to increase its transparency in the wake of the pandemic.

The United Kingdom's health security agency (UKHSA) stated that the situation was being attentively monitored. Similar fever-like illness outbreaks occurred in other nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States, after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Prof. Francois Balloux of the Genetics Institute at the University College of London stated, "China is probably experiencing a major outbreak of childhood respiratory infections now, as this is the first winter following their lengthy lockdown, which must have drastically reduced the circulation of respiratory bugs and, consequently, immunity to endemic bugs."

According to Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the current state of knowledge is insufficient to establish a conclusive diagnosis regarding the source of the infections.

He further stated, "In general, this does not appear to be an outbreak caused by an entirely novel virus." Had it been the case, I would anticipate a substantial increase in the incidence of infections among adults.

Adult infections are uncommon, indicating that they may have developed immunity due to previous exposure.