In a troubling development for China and the world at large which is still grappling with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, a mysterious pneumonia outbreak has emerged, sweeping through schools and overwhelming pediatric hospitals in Beijing and Liaoning province.
The severity of the situation has prompted the suspension of classes in some schools, mirroring the early days of the Covid-19 crisis.
The outbreak, primarily affecting children, has caused hospitals to be inundated with cases exhibiting high fever and lung inflammation.
Concerns have escalated as parents witness a surge in hospitalisations, with children developing pulmonary nodules.
As per a report by India Today, A citizen from Beijing shared with Taiwanese news website FTV News, "Many, many (children) are hospitalized. They don’t cough and have no symptoms. They just have a high temperature and many develop pulmonary nodules."
While the exact onset of the outbreak remains unclear, the rapid spread among children suggests a potential link to school environments.
Speculation among medical professionals points towards mycoplasma pneumoniae, commonly known as "walking pneumonia," as a potential cause.
This bacterial infection typically affects younger children and, although often mild, can lead to severe conditions requiring hospitalisation.
Despite the intensity of the outbreak, no deaths have been reported so far.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially requested detailed information from China regarding the surge in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children.
Chinese authorities attribute the increase to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus, and the virus that causes Covid-19.
The WHO has advised the people in China to follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, including vaccination, maintaining distance from the ill, staying home when unwell, testing and seeking medical care as needed, wearing masks appropriately, ensuring good ventilation, and regular handwashing.
As of 22 November, the WHO has requested additional epidemiologic and clinical information, along with laboratory results from reported clusters among children.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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