Health officials in Beijing, China are battling mystery pneumonia cases among children. Scientists are rushing to discover the cause of the respiratory illnesses.
The first cases of mystery pneumonia have been reported in the UK as global concerns grow.
Beijing is re-opening a makeshift hospital that was used during the 2020 COVID pandemic. China’s health ministry has asked local authorities to increase the number of fever clinics, while insisting there is no new virus.
“There is currently no evidence that the increase in pediatric pneumonia cases in China may be due to a new virus,” said Dr Zania Stamataki, a viral immunologist at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
Cell phone footage on social media shows hazmat teams disinfecting streets and buildings in northern China.
China's COVID trauma returns as hazmat workers disinfect streets
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) November 27, 2023
The World Health Organization issued a formal request to China for data on the illnesses, after public disease surveillance system ProMED reported the first cases of “undiagnosed pneumonia” on November 21.
“I am not going to push the pandemic panic button on the basis of what we know so far, but I will be very keen to see the response to WHO from China and see the WHO’s assessment following that,” leading public health expert Brian McCloskey CBE, told Reuters.
Beijing hospital overwhelmed by crowd suffering from a respiratory illness. China insists it’s just the flu and not a new virus. pic.twitter.com/NiQ7Tv4G4Y
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 27, 2023
China health officials say the mystery illness is caused by a common bacteria, mycoplasma pneumoniae, that’s spread by drug resistance from the overuse of antibiotics.
Nothing like being a parent of 3 young kids and having to monitor the appearance of a "mysterious pneumonia affecting predominantly children" in China, Europe, and Washington D.C.
— Chris (@GeekWithChris) November 28, 2023
Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria usually causes “mild infections of the respiratory system,” that could lead to more serious illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.
The CDC says good hygiene (hand washing) is key to preventing the bacteria from spreading to others.