Number of kids with respiratory diseases drops in major hospitals: China's top health authority
Published: Dec 10, 2023 09:17 PM
Sick children receive a drip at a children's hospital in Beijing on November 23, 2023. Photo: VCG.

Sick children receive IV drips at a children's hospital in Beijing on November 23, 2023. Photo: VCG

The number of cases of children with respiratory diseases at second-tier medical institutions has been fluctuating downward across the country, while the surge in visits to some children hospitals and pediatric departments at major hospitals has been alleviated to some extent, said China's top health authority on Sunday.

Data from fever and emergency clinics shows that hospital visits for respiratory diseases remain relatively stable as some patients are choosing to go to basic healthcare institutions, said Mi Feng, a spokesperson with the National Health Commission (NHC), during a briefing, noting that overall medical services nationwide have been unaffected.

Lu Hongzhou, head of the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen, told the Global Times on Sunday that daily visits to the fever clinic in the hospital peaked in the last week of November at an average of 402 patients, but then declined in the first week of December with daily visits at 394 on average.

Lu said the number still remains high, noting that while incidences of mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia (MPP) among children have been high, influenza is more prevalent among adults. 

The NHC emphasized last week the need to proactively explore resources and enhance pediatric medical services, stating that local medical and health institutions at all levels should be fully accessible to children. The authority called upon healthcare institutions nationwide to deliver quality respiratory disease healthcare services during the winter and spring seasons since respiratory diseases such as influenza, COVID-19, pneumonia and other diseases can pose great threats to vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases. 

According to Lu, influenza type A and type B viruses came in August and September, earlier than the usual October and November periods seen in previous years, and they still remain at a high level at present. 

Lu recommended that people wear masks in public places and while visiting hospitals. Additionally, vulnerable groups  should get inoculated against influenza. 

To cope with risks at these venues, the Chinese CDC recommends that students and school faculty get vaccinated as soon as possible to strengthen their immune defenses and reduce the risk of disease. 

Xia Gang, an official from China's National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention, said during the press conference that influenza vaccination is an effective measure to prevent the incidence of influenza and reduce influenza-related severe illness or death. 

According to Xia, the bureau has made special deployments to promote vaccination efforts. Influenza vaccination services have been launched in localities across the country since July, earlier than the usual influenza season. Additionally, the output and supply of influenza vaccines have increased over last year and there are sufficient vaccines to meet demand. 

The health authority will continue to optimize rational distribution of vaccines and achieve accurate planning and use of the vaccines to assure the continuous supply of vaccines. 

Xia also advocated that those who once suffered influenza symptoms but recovered on their own without diagnosis or medical treatment should still get vaccinated, since there exist multiple influenza variants and vaccines can prove effective when people contract other types or variants of influenza, especially among the elderly. 

Besides influenza vaccines, Xia also recommended that vulnerable groups to get other vaccines such as those for pneumococcus and COVID-19. 

The disease prevention and control authority also stressed the need to strengthen health monitoring and advised students and school faculty not to go to school until they fully recover to prevent the spread of disease on campus.