CDC Responds to Mysterious Pneumonia Outbreak in China

The US health agency responded to reports on Tuesday about the rash of cases.
CDC Responds to Mysterious Pneumonia Outbreak in China
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta on April 23, 2020. (Tami Chappell/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday responded to questions regarding a rash of mysterious pneumonia cases that emerged recently in China, which sparked statements from the World Health Organization and a top U.S. official.

Last week, an alert was sent out via the ProMed global outbreak surveillance system regarding the respiratory illnesses in China, which appear to mainly impact children. The alerts sparked concerns that a new, novel respiratory infection might be spreading in the country, drawing comparisons to the initial spread of COVID-19 near Wuhan.

A spokeswoman for the CDC, Jasmine Reed, told The Epoch Times on Tuesday the federal health agency is “in touch with local health authorities and its country office in China.”

“Initial reports indicate that there have been simultaneous increases in a number of known respiratory illnesses, resulting in a spike in hospitalizations,” the statement continued to say. “We continue to monitor the situation, collaborating with global health partners.”

The World Health Organization, in a statement last week, called on Chinese Communist Party officials for enhanced transparency regarding the respiratory diseases, coming as CCP authorities “attributed this increase to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae,” RSV, and COVID-19.

The U.N. health body, which also has faced criticism for a lack of transparency in how it handled COVID-19, said it requested more “epidemiologic and clinical information” along with laboratory results from the infected children.

The WHO’s statement called on Chinese people to wear masks and utilize social distancing measures, which were prominent during the early stages of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, the Chinese health ministry directed local officials to increase the number of fever clinics amid the surge in respiratory illnesses, while a spokesperson for the ministry, Mi Fen, told media outlets that the surge could be attributed to the circulation of multiple kinds of pathogens.

“Efforts should be made to increase the number of relevant clinics and treatment areas, appropriately extend service hours and strengthen guarantees of drug supplies,” the official told a news conference.

The WHO statement came as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, wrote that the Chinese outbreak “raises serious questions” and said “it’s time to abandon COVID deception and delays as transparent and timely information saves lives.”

“Full cooperation with the international community is not an option, it’s a public health imperative. Will Beijing step up?” he added on social media platform X.

Outside of Mr. Emanuel’s remark on social media last week, few U.S. officials, if any, have made public comments on the recent outbreak in China.

Last week, Maria Van Kerkhove, acting director of the WHO’s pandemic office, told a reporter that regarding the cases in China, “this is not the same situation that we were in in December 2019 and January 2020.”
The CDC did not respond to an Epoch Times question regarding whether the respiratory illness was detected inside the United States.

Other Governments Wary

Across Asia, multiple governments have taken action and are bracing for the Chinese outbreak to spread further.

Reports have indicated that the governments of India, Nepal, Taiwan, and Thailand have ramped up disease surveillance, telling doctors to be on alert for pneumonia cases.

“We’re putting our guard up,” said Thai Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew. Meanwhile, India’s health agency stated that it had “proactively decided to review the [country’s] preparedness measures against respiratory illnesses, as a matter of abundant caution,” according to reports.
The Taiwan Centre for Disease Control issued an alert to people traveling to China to pay attention to hygiene, wear a mask, and avoid crowded places, reminiscent of the early COVID-19 days. The Taiwan health agency later released a statement warning of an outbreak of seven pathogens currently circulating in China, including COVID-19, RSV, influenza, and mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae can sometimes cause a form of “walking pneumonia” or “atypical pneumonia,” as well as inner ear infections, according to health officials. Symptoms might persist for a few days or for more than a month.
Children and their parents wait at an outpatient room at a children's hospital in Beijing, China, on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images)
Children and their parents wait at an outpatient room at a children's hospital in Beijing, China, on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images)

As for Nepal, officials in the Himalayan nation said no agency has alerted them to a mysterious pneumonia outbreak inside China. But they said they’re aware of the reports and the WHO request to Chinese officials.

“All the said viruses and bacteria are common in our country and are in circulation,” Dr. Ranjan Bhatta, director at the National Public Health Laboratory, told local media. “We have been carrying out regular surveillance of those pathogens.”

Another Nepalese official, meanwhile, said that the country has to “step up the surveillance in the country and keep close vigilance on new developments about the outbreaks in China,” adding that state labs “should closely monitor the situation if the virus is causing a rise in infection rate.”

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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