China's hospitals overwhelmed as emergency cases of mystery illness leave people waiting hours

Sick children waiting in a hospital

Parents wait with their sick children at the municipal paediatric hospital in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

LI HONGBO / Feature China/Future Publishing via Getty Images
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 04/12/2023

- 14:59

Updated: 04/12/2023

- 15:36

The virus has been dubbed 'walking pneumonia'

A respiratory virus is now overwhelming Chinese hospitals with nearby countries increasing their readiness.

Countries neighbouring the Asian economic giant, including India, have raised their alert levels to high following the rapid spread of "white lung pneumonia."

The alerts are in place in a bid to prevent the virus, which has similarities to Covid-19.

It comes as the respiratory disease has already begun to overrun hospitals in Beijing.

Children at a hospital

Parents and children with respiratory infectious diseases are waiting to see a doctor at the Children's Hospital in Chongqing, China

Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Many schools across China have been closed as a result of the virus. Face masks and social distancing have already been recommended across the country.

A staff member at Beijing Friendship Hospital said: "Right now, we have a lot of kids here. Those who booked an emergency appointment yesterday still weren't able to see the doctor this morning."

Last week it was reported that Pneumonia cases in Denmark and the Netherlands have reached "epidemic" levels.

The two nations have become the latest European countries to see worrying increases in children with the illness.


Chinese hospital

Children accompanied by their parents wait to receive treatment at the emergency clinic of a children's hospital in Shanghai, China.


University of Reading virologist Professor Ian Jones told The Daily Star: "The important point is that this sort of 'bounce back' should be expected and the public health system should be aware of it.

He added that Britain "might get away with it this season" because we have a "small physical break" from Europe.

Fever, cough, fatigue, green mucus and shortness of breath have all been highlighted by doctors in China as possible symptoms of the pneumonia strain.

The spread of the virus is being closely monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is not known if and when this new disease may spread further around Europe.

A spokesperson said last week: "WHO requested additional epidemiologic and clinical information, as well as laboratory results from these reported clusters among children, through the International Health Regulations mechanism.

"We have also requested further information about recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the current burden on health care systems.

"WHO is also in contact with clinicians and scientists through our existing technical partnerships and networks in China."

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