Crowded Beijing Hospitals Struggle with Surge in Child Respiratory Illnesses Amidst Post-COVID Winter

Beijing hospitals overwhelmed as post-COVID winter brings a surge of child respiratory illnesses.

Nov 25, 2023 - 16:11
Nov 26, 2023 - 08:30
Crowded Beijing Hospitals Struggle with Surge in Child Respiratory Illnesses Amidst Post-COVID Winter

Hospitals in Beijing and northern China are reportedly struggling to cope with a surge in respiratory illnesses among children as the country enters its first winter after easing Covid-19 restrictions. Patients face long wait times, with queues of hundreds at some children's hospitals in major northern cities. 

Beijing Children’s Hospital reports more than 7,000 daily patients, surpassing its capacity, while the largest pediatric hospital in Tianjin received over 13,000 children in a day. Health officials attribute the surge to typical seasonal illnesses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and mycoplasma pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested more information from China regarding respiratory illnesses and pneumonia clusters in children. However, the WHO noted that these cases are expected due to the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions and do not involve unusual pathogens. Experts emphasize the importance of continued monitoring and transparency in disease reporting. China advises parents to seek primary care centers for children before heading to large hospitals to alleviate overcrowding.

The surge in hospital visits coincides with China's first winter without strict "zero-Covid" measures, which were eased last December. It remains unclear whether the current rise in childhood respiratory illnesses is significantly higher than pre-pandemic years. Experts suggest that social factors may be contributing to increased parental concern and medical visits. Transparent reporting and monitoring are crucial in the context of the pandemic and the potential for new viruses or mutations to cause respiratory illnesses.

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