Mystery Respiratory Disease Spreads Across China, Indian Doctor’s Warning

The advice comes after an undetermined pneumonia outbreak in China is hitting children hard.

New Delhi:

Amid the reported outbreak of H9N2 cases and clusters of respiratory illness in children in northern China, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital Director Dr Ajay Shukla advised people to be careful, follow routine practices of cleanness and if there’s someone who has got this respiratory illness or infection they should try to maintain distance from other people.

“I would just advise people to be careful. Follow routine practices of cleanness and if you feel that there’s someone who’s got this respiratory illness or infection, since a lot of these cases are viral and they can be transmitted, try to maintain distance from other people,” Dr Shukla said on Friday.

The advice comes after an undetermined pneumonia outbreak in China is hitting children hard, with media reports describing overwhelmed children’s hospitals in multiple locations.

“Because we are also dealing with pollution if you’re going out, and if you can afford it, it’s better you should use a mask, preferably an N95 and N99 mask. Wash your hands and maintain safe, healthy practices,” he added.

Speaking on exercising precautions among children Dr Shukla said, “If children are going to school, then take special care that they do not have cough, cold, fever or any other symptoms, and talk to them and ask if any child in their class is sick, and if this happens, inform the school teacher about it and if your child is sick then do not send him to school.”

Dr Shukla said that the increase in the number of small children going to hospitals with respiratory illnesses has disrupted the situation in China.

“It’s very early I would say the amount of information that we are able to access is very, very little. The WHO is definitely very much concerned about it. And, it is trying to get in touch with the authorities in China to extract as maximum details as possible. But so far the picture that is coming out, is that there is a great increase in the number of small children going into hospitals with respiratory illnesses, and in a few centres, they have reported an increase of almost 1200 children a day which is a huge number and a lot of schools have told children not to come to their classes inside the school. So the situation is definitely been disrupted,” Dr Ajay Shukla said.

Dr Shukla said that because of COVID and stringent lockdowns the immunity in the general population and children has been impacted, resulting in a rebound in cases.

“Based on the limited information that is available, a few experts have given opinions about the increase in infection in children. According to one expert, because of COVID. And because of the very stringent lockdowns that we saw in China, the immunity in the general population and the children over there has been impacted and because of that low immunity, this rebound in cases is being seen,” Dr Shukla said.

Notably, the World Health Organization requested detailed information from China on an increase in respiratory illnesses and pneumonia among the country’s children, using language similar to a Jan. 5, 2020, pre-pandemic missive regarding COVID-19.

“According to another expert, it’s most probably just a bacterial infection or a viral infection. Some organism by the name of MIKO plasma pneumoniae, which is common and not a dangerous bacterial infection is probably at the root of this illness. This has led to an increase in cases and it’s basically because of the low immunity as a result of the severe lockdown,” he added.

Dr Shukla added that experts have also said that there is no need to worry about the disease in India as its symptoms have not been seen in the country yet.

“Not a single patient infected with this disease has been found in India yet. There is no increase in cases in any part of India so far, or any part of the world apart from China. So all the cases that we’re hearing are from China,” the doctor said.

The Director of RML Hospital said that earlier 20 to 30 children came to the hospital every day, but now their number is less as 10 to 15 children are coming to the hospital. The number of children with respiratory diseases is not much, he said adding that there is no patient suffering from this disease in his hospital at present.

Dr Shukla asked people not to panic and that a pandemic-like situation will not happen going by the limited information that exists about this new influenza.

“According to the very few details that are available, people are saying there’s nothing to panic about, there’s nothing to suggest it is something that will take the shape of a pandemic, like with COVID. So, we should not start comparing it with that. I would suggest that we need to monitor the situation very closely and wait for additional information before we reach any conclusion,” he said.

The RML Hospital Director said that there is normally an increasing number of influenza cases before the winter every year and this does not suggest an abnormal increase in cases.

“You see every winter because of the cold and because of the pollution, there’s always an increasing number of cases, especially respiratory illnesses, we see an increase so I mean, that increase is bound to happen because we’ve not really felt the winter so far. So those cases are going to increase. I don’t think there’s any reason why we should feel that we will have an increase beyond that increase which is seen every year,” Dr Shukla said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Newsbust India staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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