On Sunday (26 November), the Health Ministry directed state governments to closely monitor trends of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), especially among children and adolescents, through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project.
This action was prompted by recent reports indicating a surge in respiratory illness among children in northern China.
States have been instructed to send nasal and throat swab samples of ILI/SARI patients, particularly children and adolescents, to Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories for testing respiratory pathogens.
The Health Ministry also advised states to review public health and hospital preparedness measures, including availability of human resources, hospital beds, drugs, vaccines, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment, testing kits, reagents, and functionality of oxygen plants and ventilators.
All states and Union territories are urged to implement the 'Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the context of COVID-19,' which advocates integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens causing ILI and SARI.
A senior Health Ministry official said that the review of preparedness measures against respiratory illnesses is a precautionary step, particularly with the ongoing influenza and winter season.
The government assured that it is closely monitoring the situation, and there is no need for alarm.
The Health Ministry highlighted the importance of uploading ILI/SARI data from states on a central portal, particularly from public health institutions, including medical college hospitals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) shared information indicating an increase in respiratory illnesses in northern China, attributed to causes like influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia, and SARS-CoV-2.
While WHO seeks additional information from Chinese authorities, it currently assesses that there is no cause for alarm.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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