China claims mystery pneumonia outbreak in children is NOT a new virus

China claims a new virus is NOT the culprit in mystery pneumonia outbreak in children – despite history of cover-ups

  • The WHO said it had seen data from China suggesting it was not a new virus
  • China claimed the rise in respiratory illness had not overwhelmed hospitals
  • READ MORE: US found ‘serious safety concerns’ at Wuhan lab in 2017

China has claimed that its outbreak of mystery pneumonia tearing through schools is not the result of a new virus. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had seen data from China suggesting the spike in respiratory illnesses was due to common infections rebounding after the country’s brutal lockdowns.

Chinese health officials say the outbreak – which is ‘overwhelming’ some hospitals and pushing schools to the brink of closure – is the result of a mix of infections caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae, RSV, adenovirus and the flu.

But the WHO is calling for full cooperation from China, which covered up the 2003 SARS outbreak and failed to alert the world to Covid for months, leaving countries flat-footed in their responses.

China told the WHO the rise in respiratory illness ‘has not resulted in patient loads exceeding hospital capacities’, yet photos from on-the-ground in Chinese healthcare providers showed long lines of patients hooked up to IV drips

Local media reported earlier in the week that hospitals in Beijing and 500 miles northeast in Liaoning were ‘overwhelmed with sick children’ with unusual symptoms that include inflammation in the lungs and a high fever but no cough.

The situation prompted an alert from ProMed — a disease surveillance system that similarly sounded the alarm of a mystery infection in Wuhan in the closing days of 2019, which would later emerge as the global Covid pandemic.

The WHO said it made an official request to China on Wednesday to get additional information, as well as laboratory results from reported cases and data about recent trends in circulating respiratory pathogens.

The health agency held a teleconference with Chinese health authorities from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Beijing Children’s Hospital on Thursday.

The WHO said: ‘Chinese authorities advised that there has been no detection of any unusual or novel pathogens or unusual clinical presentations, including in Beijing and Liaoning, but only the aforementioned general increase in respiratory illnesses due to multiple known pathogens. 

‘They further stated that the rise in respiratory illness has not resulted in patient loads exceeding hospital capacities.’

But local media reports, including Taiwanese outlet FTV News, claimed that hospitals were being ‘overwhelmed.’

The Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that more than 3,500 cases of ‘respiratory infection’ had been admitted to the Beijing Children’s Hospital at the start of October, Radio Free Asia reported. 

A staff member at the Beijing Friendship Hospital pediatrics department said there was a 24-hour wait for emergency cases to be seen. 

Hospitals in Beijing and almost 500 miles northeast in Liaoning are among those ‘overwhelmed with sick children,’ according to local news reports

A news clip taken from FTV News appears to show a busy hospital waiting room in China with children receiving intravenous drips

Chinese authorities also told the WHO that since mid-October, improved outpatient and inpatient surveillance had been introduced, which included Mycoplasma pneumoniae for the first time.

It appears that the WHO has not independently confirmed China’s claims.

Walking pneumonia, which typically affects younger children, causes a sore throat, tiredness and a cough that can last up to months. It is called walking pneumonia, as symptoms are usually mild enough for patients to continue walking around.

In serious cases, the illness can become pneumonia.

All families entitled to free Covid tests 

Every family in the US will be entitled to order up to eight free Covid tests this winter to help avoid spreading the virus to loved ones. 

It has been reportedly growing in China as the country goes into its first winter without strict Covid lockdowns.

Similar patterns had been seen worldwide as measures brought in to reduce the spread of Covid — such as face masks, social distancing and lockdowns — interrupted the spread of typical seasonal viruses.

The US and UK saw spikes in infections like RSV and flu after pandemic rules lifted.

As a result, immunity against these bugs dropped across populations, meaning people were more vulnerable to bugs as measures were lifted.

China told the WHO that hospital admissions of children had been rising since May due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia, and RSV, adenovirus and influenza virus since October.

Professor Francois Balloux, an expert in computational biology at University College London, said the phenomenon of ‘lockdown exit’ waves of infections had also been in the UK, and China could be experiencing a similar pattern at a larger scale.

‘Other countries, including the UK, experienced big waves of respiratory infections and hospitalizations in kids during their first winter after pandemic restrictions had been lifted,’ he said.

‘Since China experienced a far longer and harsher lockdown than essentially any other country on earth, it was anticipated that those ‘lockdown exit’ waves could be substantial in China.’

China has previously been criticized for downplaying the original SARS epidemic in 2003 and the Covid pandemic in late 2019 — which were both novel viruses that caused pneumonia.

WHO China, the regional branch of the United Nations-backed health body, has already sought to downplay the wider WHO’s request for information, calling it a ‘routine’ procedure.

British infectious disease experts said that, while data was still emerging, China must ‘get a grip’ on the outbreak and do so in ‘transparent’ fashion.

The WHO said it is ‘closely monitoring the situation’ and is in ‘close contact with national authorities in China.’ 

It would provide updates as warranted, it added.

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