| 4 March 2024, Monday |

WHO asks China for detail on respiratory illness outbreaks

In what its China office dubbed a “routine” inspection on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) requested information from China regarding a rise in respiratory infections and recorded cases of pneumonia in youngsters.

On November 13, Chinese officials from the National Health Commission announced a rise in the prevalence of respiratory illnesses at a press conference.

The increase was linked by the authorities to the removal of COVID-19 limitations and the spread of known infections, including the virus that causes COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), mycoplasma pneumoniae, influenza, and a common bacterial infection that generally affects younger children.

Both China and the WHO have faced questions about the transparency of reporting on the earliest COVID-19 cases that emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

On Wednesday, the WHO said groups including the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) reported clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in north China. The WHO said it was not clear if these were associated with an overall increase in respiratory infections previously reported by Chinese authorities or separate events.

The WHO said it had asked for additional epidemiologic and clinical information as well as laboratory results from the reported outbreaks among children, through the International Health Regulations mechanism.

Under the rules, China is supposed to respond to WHO within 24 hours.

  • Reuters