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China’s Pediatric Wards Overwhelmed by Surge in Childhood Respiratory Illnesses

Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that respiratory illnesses like mycoplasma pneumonia are currently surging across China, leading to overflowing pediatric wards. Many students are taking sick leave from school. In some areas, nearly half the seats in classrooms are empty, and some schools have temporarily suspended classes entirely due to the high rate of absences.

In Jinan, one parent reported that nearly 50% of the approximately 50 students in their child’s class were out on leave. In Hangzhou, over 20 students in one 36-student elementary school class had fevers, leading to a 2-day class suspension. A Shaoxing elementary school saw over 5 students with fevers above 38 C in one class, prompting a 4-day suspension. An entire class in Taizhou also suspended for 5 days due to students taking leave.

Children are presenting with high fevers upwards of 40C (104 F). The spread of influenza, rhinovirus, Mycoplasma pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus and other pathogens is hard for parents and students to prevent. Some students have returned from leave only to fall ill again with another virus.

Hospitals have been inundated with pediatric cases. Some images have surfaced on social media of children do their homework while receiving IV treatments. Meanwhile, some localities have prohibited teachers from mandating homework completion for sick students and have advised ill teachers and children not to attend school.

Experts predict that this wave of respiratory disease could continue for some time before improving in the spring when warmer weather arrives. The simultaneous circulation of multiple viruses is making it difficult to accurately forecast the end of the surge.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), November 28, 2023