China’s health ministry has called for more fever clinics to address a surge in respiratory illnesses during the country’s first full winter since its relaxation of Covid-19 curbs, as reported by Reuters.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns about clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children, prompting China to provide more information.

The WHO clarified on 24 November that no new or unusual pathogens were found in the recent cases.

The rise in acute respiratory illnesses has been attributed to the simultaneous circulation of various pathogens, with influenza being a prominent factor.

Cases of these illnesses, particularly among children, are high in northern regions, including Beijing and Liaoning provinces, and have led to extended hospital waiting times.

China’s State Council has warned of a peak in influenza and ongoing mycoplasma pneumoniae infections over the coming months, while also cautioning of the risk of a Covid-19 infection rebound.

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The WHO has also indicated that recent cases may be linked to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions last December, as well as the circulation of known pathogens.

National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said: “Efforts should be made to increase the number of relevant clinics and treatment areas, appropriately extend service hours, and strengthen guarantees of drug supplies.

“It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places such as schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.”

Reuters quoted the State Council as saying: “All localities should strengthen information reporting on infectious diseases to ensure information is reported in a timely and accurate manner.”

The WHO has emphasised the need for increased disease surveillance and recommends measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, including vaccination, maintaining distance from sick individuals, staying home when ill, testing, wearing masks, ensuring good ventilation and regular handwashing.