In the wake of a spike in cases of respiratory illness, especially among children, in China, the Union health ministry Friday said there is a low risk to India from avian influenza as well clusters of respiratory illness.
The government further said it was closely monitoring the outbreak of H9N2 and clusters of respiratory illness in children in China. The ministry added that India is prepared for any kind of exigency that may emerge from the current influenza situation in China.
The development comes days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) made an official request to China for detailed information on the illness. Although no known or new pathogen has been identified yet, the WHO is pressing the alert button in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It doesn’t want to be caught unawares about a potential disease threat.
The WHO has recommended that people in China should follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, which include recommended vaccines against influenza, Covid-19 and other respiratory pathogens. It advised keeping distance from people who are ill, staying home during illness, getting tested and medical care as needed, wearing masks, ensuring good ventilation, and practising regular handwashing.
Even as WHO has not recommended any specific measures for travellers to China, it mentioned that people experiencing symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness should avoid travel.
At a press conference on November 13, Chinese authorities from the National Health Commission reported an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China. However, information from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown a spiral in influenza positivity since October even as Covid-19 rates continue to go down.