The Union Health Ministry stated on Friday that it is closely monitoring the H9N2 outbreak and clusters of respiratory illnesses in children in the neighbouring country China.
“There is a low risk to India from both the avian influenza cases reported from China as well as the clusters of respiratory illness. India is prepared for any difficulty that may emerge from the current situation,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement followed media reports that Chinese hospitals are “overwhelmed with sick children” as a pneumonia outbreak spreads throughout Beijing and other Chinese cities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also sought detailed reports from China on increased respiratory illnesses among children.
According to the information reports over the past few weeks have indicated an increase in the occurrence of respiratory disorders in China. Children’s respiratory illnesses are typically caused by other factors, and no novel pathogen or unexpected clinical symptoms have been found. Under the direction of the DGHS Chairman, a meeting was convened recently to discuss the nation’s readiness measures for human cases of avian influenza. This was done in light of the WHO-reported human case of H9N2 (avian influenza virus) in China in October 2023.
According to the health ministry, India is prepared for any public health necessity and will adopt a One Health approach towards addressing such public health issues.
There has also been a significant strengthening of health infrastructure, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.
PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) is developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, to prepare health systems to respond effectively to current and future pandemics/disasters.