With clusters of pneumonia cases being reported from northern China, the Union health ministry Friday said it was closely monitoring the situation, adding there was a low risk to India. “Based on the currently available information, an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China has been reported over the last few weeks. The usual causes of respiratory illness in children have been implicated and there has been no identification of an unusual pathogen or any unexpected clinical manifestation,” said a statement from the ministry.

The WHO has requested China to share detailed clinical and epidemiological information on the increase in respiratory illnesses after media reports of “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia.”

There was an increase in influenza-like illnesses since mid-October in China as compared to the same period in the three previous years. “These pathogens commonly cause pneumonia, especially in children. And, this is a season when there is usually an increase in respiratory infections. For now, there doesn’t seem to be any cause for alarm,” said a senior official in the know of the matter.

The Union health ministry statement said they are also monitoring the reported case of human H9N2 avian influenza in China in October this year. A meeting was held under the chairmanship of the DG of health services to discuss the preparedness measures for the same. “The overall risk assessment by the WHO indicates a low probability of human to human spread and low case fatality among humans,” the statement said, adding there was a “low risk to India” from both. “India is prepared for any kind of public health exigency,” the statement said. (IE)