Closely monitoring outbreak of H9N2, clusters of respiratory illness in children in China: Govt

New Delhi: India is prepared for any kind of exigency that may emerge from the current influenza situation in China, the government said Friday, highlighting that it is monitoring the outbreak of H9N2 and clusters of respiratory illness in children in that country.

There is a low risk to India from both the avian influenza — H9N2– case reported in China as well as the clusters of respiratory illness, the Union health ministry said.

Some media reports have indicated the clustering of cases of respiratory illness in children in northern China for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued a statement, it said.

Based on available information, an increase in the incidence of respiratory diseases in China has been reported in the last few weeks. “The usual causes of respiratory illness in children have been implicated and there has been no identification of an unusual pathogen or any unexpected clinical manifestations,” the ministry said.

Recently, a meeting was held under the Directorate General of Health Services to discuss the preparedness measures against human cases of avian influenza in the country against the backdrop of a human case of H9N2 (avian influenza virus) in October in China that was reported to the WHO, it said.

“The overall risk assessment by the WHO indicates a low probability of human-to-human spread and low case fatality rate among human cases of H9N2 reported to the WHO so far. The need for strengthening surveillance among human, animal husbandry and wildlife sectors and improving coordination was recognised. India is prepared for any kind of public health exigency,” the ministry added.

The WHO on Thursday said it has made an official request to China for detailed information on the spike in respiratory illnesses after Chinese health authorities reported multiple infectious respiratory diseases with surging cases of mycoplasma pneumonia and influenza flu among children.

The ministry said India is embarking on a ‘One Health’ approach to adopt a holistic and integrated roadmap towards addressing such public health issues. There has also been a significant strengthening of health infrastructure, especially since the Covid pandemic, it said.

The PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) was launched by the prime minister and it is developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels, primary, secondary, and tertiary, to prepare health systems to respond effectively to the current and future pandemics and disasters, the ministry said. In addition, India’s surveillance and detection networks under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) have rich experience of dealing with challenging health situations during the Covid pandemic, the ministry said.