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Netherlands sees alarming surge in China-like pneumonia cases in kids: Report

IANS Nov 30, 2023

The Netherlands is witnessing an outbreak of pneumonia cases in children, days after China reported a similar uptick in cases, raising concerns.

According to the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) last week, 103 of every 100,000 children between age 5 and 14 suffered a bout of pneumonia.

This was up 24 per cent from the 83 recorded in the seven days before, data from NIVEL showed.

This is reportedly the largest outbreak of pneumonia NIVEL has recorded in recent years. In 2022, the weekly average during peak flu season saw 58 kids fall ill with pneumonia. Cases in under-fours were also up from 124 to 145 per 100,000 in the same period.

Local media from the Netherlands reported that neither NIVEL nor the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment are able to explain the reason behind the increasing pneumonia cases.

"There are a striking number of children and young people with pneumonia," a NIVEL spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Sun.

A recent post on ProMED Mail, the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, reported China experiencing a major pneumonia outbreak with no known cause in children.

It said that the outbreak, causing symptoms such as high fever, and some developing pulmonary nodules is overwhelming paediatric hospitals in the country.

Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that no new pathogens were detected in the outbreak, and instead, the illnesses were caused by known seasonal viruses such as the flu and RSV, along with the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumonia.

They also blamed the spike on the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, as this is the first flu season since the country eased its strict lockdown measures.

As per the WHO, the release of COVID-19 restrictions coinciding with the onset of the winter season in addition to the cyclical trend of respiratory illnesses such as Mycoplasma pneumonia have led to this surge.

Meanwhile, last week, the Union Health Ministry noted that it is “closely monitoring the reported outbreak of H9N2 cases and clusters of respiratory illness in children” in northern China.

“There is low risk to India from both the avian influenza case reported from China as well as the clusters of respiratory illness,” said a statement from the ministry.

It added that the country is prepared for any kind of exigency that may emerge from the current influenza situation in China.

About six states -- Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Tamil Nadu -- have also asked their hospitals and healthcare staff to ensure preparedness to tackle patients complaining of respiratory issues.

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