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Indian States Heighten Preparedness Amid China’s Respiratory Illness Surge

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New Delhi: In response to a surge in respiratory illnesses among children in China, at least six Indian states, including Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu, have elevated their health infrastructure readiness. The directive from the Centre urged a review of preparedness to tackle respiratory issues.

The Karnataka health department issued an advisory to citizens on seasonal flu awareness, detailing symptoms and preventive measures. Further, states like Gujarat and Uttarakhand are fortifying healthcare infrastructure as a precaution.

The Union Health Ministry has proactively reviewed measures against respiratory illnesses, emphasizing caution during the influenza and winter season.

State-Specific Responses

Rajasthan: The advisory from the Rajasthan Health Department assures that the situation is “not worrisome at present.” However, medical staff is advised to remain vigilant, focusing on preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Adequate arrangements are recommended in pediatric units and medicine departments.

Gujarat: Health Minister Rushikesh Patel stated that healthcare infrastructure, established during the COVID-19 pandemic, is being strengthened as a precautionary measure. Government officials are tasked with reviewing their readiness.

Uttarakhand: The state government directed health officials to intensify surveillance for respiratory illnesses, particularly in districts sharing borders with China.

Haryana: The health department issued a directive emphasizing the immediate reporting of any “clustering of unusual respiratory illness” in public or private hospitals.

Tamil Nadu: Both government-run and private hospitals received directives to enhance preparedness. While reporting no child pneumonia cases yet, the state health department emphasized vigilance as a precaution.

Union Health Ministry’s Advisory

 

The Centre’s advisory, issued on November 26, prompted states to review hospital preparedness due to the China pneumonia scare. The Union Health Ministry, noting recent reports of a surge in respiratory illness in Chinese children, proactively reviewed measures against respiratory diseases. The government assured that there is no need for alarm while closely monitoring the situation.

The ministry said, “All States and Union Territories have been advised to implement ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the context of COVID-19’, shared earlier this year, which provides for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI).”

The Union Health Secretary advised states and Union Territories to review public health and hospital preparedness, implementing operational guidelines for surveillance.

China’s Respiratory Illness Surge

China’s recent surge in respiratory illnesses, particularly among children, has raised global concerns. Despite concerns, Chinese health authorities attribute the infections to known viruses and link them to the first full cold season post-COVID restrictions. Experts suggest that there is little evidence to suggest the cases are caused by a new virus.

Seasonal Flu Advisory

 The advisory from the Karnataka Health Department outlines seasonal flu as a self-limiting infectious disease spread through cough, sneeze, or contact with droplets. It lasts five to seven days, causing low morbidity and mortality. At-risk populations, including infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals, may require hospitalization. Symptoms encompass fever, chills, malaise, loss of appetite, myalgia, nausea, sneezing, and a dry cough lasting up to three weeks in high-risk groups.

Dos and Don’ts for Infection Prevention

The advisory emphasizes essential practices for infection prevention, including hand hygiene, mask usage, and avoiding crowded places. Citizens suspecting flu symptoms are advised to seek medical attention, use face masks, maintain distance, and refrain from self-medication. The detailed dos and don’ts contribute to public awareness and collective efforts in tackling potential health challenges.

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