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After battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic for over three years, China is now in the grip of a severe pneumonia outbreak. As per records, thousands have already been hospitalized with severe respiratory problems. Speaking to the media, Chinese authorities have said that a surge in mycoplasma-caused pneumonia in children shows signs of ebbing, but warned that other respiratory illnesses are likely to hit the broader population hard during the mainland's first winter after Covid restrictions.
The recent outbreak came forth after reports of China hospitals overwhelmed with sick children surfaced reminding the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. A ProMed alert in late December 2019 about a mystery virus was later named Sars-Cov-2, leading to lockdowns and strict measures across the globe.
The World Health Organisation took note of the media and ProMed reports and sought a detailed report from China on the cases. "WHO has made an official request to #China for detailed information on an increase in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children," it said in a post on X.
Addressing the common people, the global health body has also called for measures to be taken to prevent the spread of the infection, such as increased handwashing and respiratory hygiene.
The outbreak was first detected in mid-October when hospitals in Beijing and Liaoning province began reporting a surge in cases of undiagnosed pneumonia. The number of cases quickly escalated, overwhelming pediatric hospitals and forcing some schools to close their doors.
The epicenters of this mysterious pneumonia outbreak are the reportedly Beijing and Liaoning provinces. The seriousness of the current situation has also led to the suspension of classes in some schools, as both students and teachers have taken ill. As per the data, no deaths have been reported so far.
Health experts have stated that as of now the data doesn't support the possibility of the disease taking the shape of a new pandemic, however, since pneumonia is also a respiratory disease, one must take proper precautions in order to stay safe. Taking cognizance of the worsening situation in China, several countries have already started taking necessary steps to prepare against the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses.
In India, the Union Health Ministry of India has proactively undertaken a thorough evaluation of preparedness measures against respiratory illnesses. Issuing advisories to all states and Union territories, the ministry has called for an immediate reassessment and reinforcement of public health and hospital preparedness measures. This directive includes the implementation of the 'Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the Context of Covid-19.'
The Ministry also stated that preparedness is important in view of the ongoing influenza and winter season that results in an increase in respiratory illness cases and directed states/UTs to immediately review public health and hospital preparedness measures.