According to state media, Chinese social media sites and the US news network CNN, some children’s hospitals in major cities across northern China have hundreds of patients queuing up, with waiting times to see doctors stretching into hours.
Since Wuhan, the central city of the country, was the epicenter of the coronavirus in late 2019, the world has been watching with concern the devastating effects it has had on the health and economic situation over the years. the world
On Tuesday, an official at Beijing Children’s Hospital told state media that “an average of 7,000 patients per day exceeds the hospital’s capacity.”
In the nearby city of Tianjin, the largest children’s hospital broke a record on Saturday, receiving more than 13,000 children in its outpatient and emergency departments, according to a local state-run outlet.
When CNN called Thursday to inquire about booking times at Friendship Hospital in Beijing, a specialist staff member said it could take a full day to see a pediatrician.
Health officials in Beijing and other major cities in northern China attributed the overcrowding in hospitals to flu and seasonal illnesses including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial infection that is usually mild and affects children. .
The rise in the number of cases across northern China coincides with an increase in seasonal respiratory infections in the northern hemisphere, including the United States, where respiratory syncytial virus is spreading among children at “unprecedented” levels.
A global concern
But the situation in China has raised global concern after the World Health Organization on Wednesday asked the country to provide more information on a rise in respiratory illnesses and “undiagnosed pneumonia in children”.
However, the World Health Organization, which spoke to health and hospital officials in China on Thursday, reported an increase in outpatient consultations and hospitalizations of children due to pneumonia (mycoplasma) and common seasonal diseases, adenovirus and influenza virus in May. October, past tense.
The World Health Organization said: “Some of these increases occurred earlier in the season than historically, but they are expected because of the lifting of corona restrictions, as has happened in other countries.”
The organization added that Chinese authorities have not detected any unusual or new pathogens or unusual clinical symptoms.
Experts monitoring the situation pointed out that there was no evidence of the emergence of a new pathogen, but called on China to share more information about the health situation with the public.
“We don’t think the unknown pathogen is hiding somewhere,” Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Biomedical Sciences in Hong Kong, told CNN. “There’s no evidence of that.”
But Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Deakin University in Australia, confirmed that the main concern is whether the rise in cases of pneumonia in children represents a new pathogen or a new level of disease severity.
“So far, we have not heard from either of them,” he said, adding, “It is important to monitor the sources of infection to rule out such concerns.”
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