The World Health Organization (WHO) is asking China for more information about a recent surge in respiratory illnesses and pneumonia in Chinese children. This request is reminiscent of early inquiries about COVID-19 in January 2020. Chinese health officials acknowledged the increase in respiratory illnesses at a press conference on November 13. The WHO wants more data from China, including lab results and information about the spread of known respiratory diseases like the flu, COVID-19, and RSV, and how this impacts healthcare systems.
Hospitals for children in Beijing and Liaoning are struggling to handle the influx of sick kids, with schools close to shutting down. However, experts say there’s no indication yet of a new pathogen. Dr. Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota thinks known respiratory diseases likely cause the illnesses since they mostly affect children. Dr. Amesh Adalja from Johns Hopkins agrees, suggesting it could be a mix of different respiratory diseases. There’s some speculation that mycoplasma pneumoniae, known for causing milder lung infections, might be involved.