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Broad-Spectrum Tests Will Begin In 2 Hospitals: Delhi Minister On China Illness Surge

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said no new pathogens have been detected yet, and the decision is a precautionary measure.

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Thursday said multiplex PCR tests will be started at two government hospitals to detect any new pathogens and asserted that there was no need to panic, amid a surge in respiratory illness in children in northern China.

Mr Bharadwaj held a meeting earlier in the day to review the preparedness of hospitals and also directed that an anti-viral drug for children that is administered in such cases should be procured.

Talking to PTI Video, he said, “Following the Centre’s advisory, we held a meeting with the Delhi government experts, including pulmonologists and paediatric pulmonologists who have been seeing the situation. Till now no new pathogens have been detected. But as a precautionary measure, paediatric departments have been directed to run broad spectrum tests on children admitted with symptoms to detect any new pathogens.”

Later in a post on X, he said that multiplex PCR tests will be started in Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital and Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya to detect any new pathogens.

The Union health ministry has advised states to immediately review public health preparedness in view of the recent reports indicating a surge in respiratory illness in children in northern China.

The minister said the experts have said that so far, there has been no indication of mortality.

“We have directed the department to procure anti-viral drugs that are administered to children so that in case of an emergency we have those medicines. We have asked hospitals to be alert and all preparations under Covid protocols should be done. I have understood from doctors that in January, cough, influenza infections show a rise. Please don’t think it has something do with China. Please don’t panic,” he said.

In a statement on Sunday, the ministry said it has decided to proactively review preparatory measures against respiratory illnesses as a matter of abundant caution.

In a post on X, the minister said, “We held a meeting with doctors on the infection spreading in China. Broadly speaking, there is no alarming situation in Delhi. It is being told that the infections that are happening are non-pathogenic and often happen during this season. Still, we are keeping an eye on all the situations, hence we have taken some decisions.” 

Recently, information shared by the WHO has indicated an increase in respiratory illness in northern parts of China. This is predominantly attributed to usual causes such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia and SARS-CoV-2.

According to the WHO, the release of COVID-19 restrictions coinciding with the onset of winter season in addition to the cyclical trend of respiratory illnesses such as mycoplasma pneumonia have led to this surge.

While the WHO has sought additional information from the Chinese authorities, it is assessed that there is no cause for any alarm at the moment, the ministry said.

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