Since mid-October, northern China has witnessed a rise in influenza-like illness compared to the same period in the previous three years. China has established systems to collect data on influenza trends, influenza-like illnesses, RSV, and SARS-CoV-2 and submits reports to platforms such as the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.
The Chinese pandemic affecting children in China and Europe is likely a mycoplasma causing pneumonia, not a new pandemic. Antimicrobial resistance is a serious global health threat, with Greece leading in excessive antibiotic use. The 3rd MasterClass on Rational Use of Antimicrobials will be held at the Atlantis Hotel in Heraklion until December 10, featuring renowned scientists discussing crucial topics for infectious disease specialists and hospital doctors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally requested detailed information from China regarding the rise in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children. Speaking at a press conference on November 13, 2023, Chinese authorities announced a surge in respiratory diseases in the country. This increase was attributed to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and the circulation of familiar pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae (a common bacterial infection that typically affects younger children), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Emphasizing the necessity for heightened disease surveillance in healthcare facilities and community settings, authorities also stressed the need to bolster the health system’s capacity to manage patients.
Subsequently, on November 21, reports from the media and ProMED indicated clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China. It remains uncertain whether these clusters are linked to the previously reported overall surge in respiratory infections or if they represent separate occurrences.
On November 22, WHO formally requested additional epidemiologic and clinical information and laboratory results concerning these reported clusters among children through the International Health Regulations mechanism. Furthermore, the WHO sought more information about recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV, and mycoplasma pneumoniae, as well as the current strain on healthcare systems. WHO has also been in communication with clinicians and scientists in China through existing technical partnerships and networks.
While WHO awaits this additional information, it advises individuals in China to adhere to measures aimed at reducing the risk of respiratory illness. These measures include receiving recommended vaccinations, maintaining distance from ill individuals, staying home when feeling unwell, seeking testing and medical care as necessary, wearing masks as appropriate, ensuring proper ventilation, and practising regular hand-washing.