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China sees drop in respiratory illness cases, trend expected to continue | Updated: 2023-12-24 19:32
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Zhou Huixia, director of the children's medical center at the PLA General Hospital's Seventh Medical Center, checks a patient. CHINA DAILY

The number of patients visiting health institutions in China with respiratory illnesses has been steadily declining, a trend that health officials expect to continue in the coming weeks.

At a press conference on Sunday, Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, reported an 8.2-percent decrease in outpatient and emergency treatment volume for respiratory diseases at secondary or above hospitals compared to December 15th. This represented a 30 percent drop from the peak period earlier in the season.

"The number of diagnoses and treatments in basic health institutions has also remained relatively stable, with recent monitoring showing a decline," said Fu Wei, an official from the commission's department for basic health. Fu added that basic health institutions have seen around 40 percent of the patients with respiratory illnesses across the country since Nov 26.

Peng Zhibin, an official from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, attributed the recent surge in respiratory illnesses primarily to the influenza virus, although cases caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus, and adenovirus were also identified. He noted that while the activity of these viruses fluctuates and declines, novel coronavirus activity has reached extremely low levels in 2023.

"The downward trend of acute respiratory illness is likely to continue in the coming week, with influenza remaining the dominant virus," Peng said.

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