The World Health Organization said it had submitted a formal request to China for information on potentially worrying increases in respiratory illnesses and childhood pneumonia.
The U.N. health agency said there was an undiagnosed outbreak of pneumonia in children in northern China, based on unspecified media reports and information from global infectious disease surveillance agencies.
The World Health Organization said in a statement late Wednesday that it was unclear whether they were related to an increase in respiratory infections reported by Chinese authorities.
Foreign scientists say the situation needs to be monitored closely, but they do not believe the recent outbreak of respiratory illness in China is a sign of a new global outbreak.
Outbreaks of new influenza or other viruses with pandemic capabilities often begin with outbreaks of undiagnosed respiratory illnesses. Both SARS and COVID-19 were initially thought to be unusual types of pneumonia.
China’s National Health Commission reported an increase in respiratory illnesses on Nov. 13, which they attributed to the lifting of restrictions imposed during COVID-19 quarantines, according to the World Health Organization. Other countries have seen dramatic increases in respiratory illnesses such as human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) when pandemic restrictions were lifted.
The WHO said a week later media reports of an undiagnosed outbreak of childhood pneumonia in northern China.
“It is unclear whether these are related to the increase in general respiratory illnesses reported by Chinese authorities or whether they are separate events,” the WHO said, adding that it had asked China through international legal mechanisms for further information on the virus. detail. circulation and whether hospitals are under greater pressure.