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China combats surge of respiratory illnesses of known pathogens

By LI LEI | | Updated: 2023-12-02 19:13
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Sick children receive intravenous drips in the pediatrics department at Peking University Third Hospital, Nov 27, 2023. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/]

The recent surge of respiratory illnesses in China is fueled by already-known pathogens and vaccination efforts are still vital to stemming the spread, medical experts said on Saturday.

A co-circulation of illnesses including mycoplasma pneumonia, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, had swept across many regions after China eased COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year and as temperatures dropped.

Mi Feng, National Health Commission spokesman, said the clusters were all caused by recognized pathogens and medical workers are dealing with them with mature treatment plans.

"Diseases induced by unknown viruses and bacteria have not been detected yet," he told a news conference in Beijing.

Mi said vaccination must be stepped up for vulnerable groups such as older adults and children to lower the risk of infection. He said their work priorities would be to increase the supply of hospital beds, streamline the outpatient reception process and bolster the supply of internet medical services to avoid large gatherings at brick-and-mortar hospitals.

The spokesman also urged the public to take personal precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding crowded venues.

Speaking at the event, Wang Dayan, a flu expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said all the infections currently circulating in the country have corresponding vaccines proven to be safe and effective in clinical settings.

She encouraged people aged six months and above to get flu vaccines, especially older people and those with chronic diseases. Wang said it's never too late to get flu jabs, as apart from preventing infections, inoculation can also help ease symptoms.

"Practice at home and abroad has proven that the use of vaccines is one of the most cost-effective means of prevention," she said.

Children are among the most affected by this outbreak. Authorities have encouraged patients with mild symptoms to recover at home while seeking treatment from online hospitals so as to avoid large gatherings and cross-infections.

Yang Jinghua, a pediatrician from Guangdong province, said parents caring for sick children at home should pay attention to ventilation and avoid smoking indoors.

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