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Business News/ News / World/  'India will have to take precautions if...': Expert on H9N2 outbreak in China
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'India will have to take precautions if...': Expert on H9N2 outbreak in China

The Health Ministry has noted low risk for India and assured its preparedness for any potential public health emergencies

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks commute in a subway station during morning rush hour during the COVID-19 pandemic in China (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo)Premium
FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks commute in a subway station during morning rush hour during the COVID-19 pandemic in China (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo)

The Union Health Ministry is closely monitoring the recent outbreak of H9N2 cases and clusters of respiratory illness among children in northern China. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a press release addressing concerns raised by some media reports about the clustering of respiratory illness cases in the region.

Also Read | Mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China: Hospitals overwhelmed as cases surge, WHO issues advisory – All you need to know

The press release reassured that there's a low risk to India from both the avian influenza cases and the clusters of respiratory illness reported from China. The information currently available suggests an increase in respiratory diseases in China over the last few weeks. However, the causes remain typical, with no identification of unusual pathogens or unexpected clinical manifestations.

Expert Opinion

Speaking to ANI, Dr. Ajay Shukla from RML Hospital said the World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned about the surge in respiratory illness among children in China and is trying to seek details from the Chinese government.

He added specifics about the disease cannot be discussed till details are received and the surge could be due to decreased immunity among children due to the prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns. He also added that India is on wait-and-watch as there has been no impact here yet.

Also Read: WHO presses China for data on wave of undiagnosed pneumonia cases

"Some experts are saying that this might be the case of a bacterial infection named Mycoplasma pneumonia. We cannot say much unless details are received. This might be a repercussion due to a weakness in immunity because of the lockdown. Unless details are received, we cannot say anything. The whole world is observing this situation with seriousness. Till now, there has not been much impact on India. If anything is reported in India, we will have to take precautions..." Dr Shukla said.

Preparedness Measures Discussed

In a recent meeting chaired by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), preparedness measures against potential human cases of Avian Influenza in India were discussed, as per an ANI report. Notably, the meeting came after a human case of H9N2 (Avian influenza virus) in China was reported to the WHO in October 2023.

The WHO's overall risk assessment indicates a low probability of human-to-human spread and a low case fatality rate among reported human cases of H9N2. It has however recognised the need for enhanced surveillance across human, animal husbandry, and wildlife sectors; and the importance of improved coordination.

Also Read | China’s ‘batwoman’ scientist warns another ‘highly likely’ coronavirus outbreak in future: Report

India has assured its preparedness for any potential public health emergencies by adopting a holistic One Health approach to address such issues, the report added. There has been significant reinforcement of health infrastructure, especially post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strengthening Health Systems

The Health Ministry release noted that the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) has "enhanced capacities of health systems at all levels, from primary to tertiary care, ensuring an effective response to present and future pandemics or disasters".

It added that learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, India's surveillance and detection networks under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) also possess extensive experience in managing challenging health situations.

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Published: 25 Nov 2023, 12:37 PM IST
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