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Updated January 15th, 2024 at 13:54 IST

China Warns Of Possible Rebound Of Covid Cases This Month: Report

Experts anticipate that people in China will likely continue to encounter various respiratory pathogens alternating during the winter and upcoming spring.

China warns of possible rebound of Covid cases this month
China warns of possible rebound of Covid cases this month | Image:AP
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The number of patients attending fever clinics at medical institutions in China has decreased since New Year's Day. Nonetheless, Chinese health authorities have indicated the potential for a resurgence in the COVID-19 infection epidemic in China in January, as reported by the China-based news outlet.

During a press briefing, Mi Feng, the spokesperson for the National Health Commission stated that the number of patients visiting fever clinics in healthcare institutions throughout China has shown a fluctuating decline. Currently, respiratory diseases primarily influenza, remain predominant and the incidence of COVID-19 infections is relatively low.

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As per recent data from the multi-channel monitoring system, the positive rate of COVID-19 virus testing in sentinel hospitals has stayed below one percent following the New Year's Day holiday. Wang Dayan, the director of the China National Influenza Center at the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), mentioned that there is an upward trend in the proportion of the JN.1 variant strain.

Experts anticipate that people in China will likely continue to encounter various respiratory pathogens alternating or co-circulating during the winter and upcoming spring. In the short term, influenza viruses are expected to remain dominant, as reported.

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Wang explained that the continuous importation of the JN.1 variant strain, coupled with a gradual decline in domestic influenza and a decrease in population immunity creates the potential for a COVID-19 epidemic rebound in January. Furthermore, there is a high likelihood that the JN.1 variant may become the dominant strain in China.

Wang noted that the influenza season in southern provinces of China commenced in early October, with northern provinces following suit in late October. Initially, the predominant circulating strain was the H3N2 subtype influenza virus. However, over the past three weeks, the proportion of influenza B virus in southern provinces has increased to 36.8 percent.

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Meanwhile, the proportion of influenza B virus in northern provinces has risen to 57.7 percent over the past five weeks. In certain provinces, the prevalence of influenza B virus has surpassed that of influenza A, as reported.

"The immune response generated after contracting influenza A does not provide effective immune protection against influenza B, which means that even if one has had influenza A during the epidemic season, there is still a possibility of being infected with influenza B," adding that high-risk individuals should receive influenza vaccination as early as possible every year, said Wang.

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During a news conference on Sunday jan , Wang Guiqiang, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Peking University First Hospital, emphasised that winter is the peak season for respiratory infectious diseases. Additionally, the immunity developed after infection with various pathogens is not long-lasting, making repeated infections possible. However, the symptoms of a second infection with the same pathogen are often mild.

Infections by different pathogens could exacerbate the condition, especially following damage to the upper respiratory mucosal barrier, potentially leading to secondary bacterial infections. Wang mentioned that infections like COVID-19 or influenza may worsen underlying health conditions, particularly in the elderly and those with pre-existing diseases. Emphasising the need for early intervention and diagnosis of respiratory diseases, Wang urged increased attention to these aspects.

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Mi Feng highlighted the necessity of enhancing monitoring and early warning systems, especially with the winter vacation and Spring Festival approaching, as large-scale movement and gatherings could accelerate the spread of respiratory diseases.

According to a local news outlet's report the provision of timely health consultation and referral guidance services to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women, children, and patients with chronic underlying diseases. Additionally, measures to facilitate convenient access to vaccinations for these groups are recommended.

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Published January 15th, 2024 at 13:54 IST

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