CDC Director: Spike in Respiratory Illness in China Not From a New Virus | Health News

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The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said that the agency has been in touch with China and believes the recent increase in respiratory illnesses in the country is not due to a new pathogen.

“What we know as of right now, today, what’s happening in China, they are having an increase in some of their respiratory illness they’re seeing in the northern part of their country, they’re seeing an uptick in their pediatric population,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen told a House subcommittee. “What we do know as of, again, as of today, is we do not believe this is a new or novel pathogen. We believe this is all existing – meaning COVID, flu, RSV, mycoplasma. But they are seeing an upsurgence.”

The World Health Organization this month requested China provide details on the uptick in respiratory illnesses and reported clusters of pneumonia in children in northern China. The request for some felt reminiscent of the early days of COVID-19, but officials quickly worked to quell that fear.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday said that the increase is a common problem in other countries and that it is under control.

“Recently we have seen some clusters of flu cases among children in certain parts of China. In fact, that is a very common phenomenon in many countries, and in China that has been put under effective control,” Wang told reporters at the United Nations in New York.

Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO said on Wednesday that the organization is following up with the situation in China.

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Cohen said the CDC has also been in close touch with its counterparts in China and that information from the country “has been corroborated with other counterparts across the U.S. government but also with our European Union partners, as well.”

“So we feel confident that that information has been corroborated,” Cohen said.

WHO has not recommended any specific measures for travelers to China but advised people in the country to “follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, which include recommended vaccines against influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens as appropriate; keeping distance from people who are ill; staying home when ill; getting tested and medical care as needed; wearing masks as appropriate; ensuring good ventilation; and practicing regular handwashing.”

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