Uptick in Respiratory Infections Blamed on Chilled Weather; Physicians Advise Precautions

Uptick in Respiratory Infections Blamed on Chilled Weather; Physicians Advise Precautions

In the wake of a recent advisory issued by the Centre regarding a surge in respiratory illnesses in China, doctors in Kashmir have assured the public that the increase in such cases in the region is primarily due to cold weather and not a cause for panic.

Amid reports of an uptick in respiratory illnesses among children in northern China, the Government of India (GoI) is closely monitoring the situation. The Centre stressed that there is no need for alarm and emphasised that the current spike in respiratory cases in Kashmir is linked to seasonal weather conditions.

Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) spokesman, Dr Mir Mushtaq reassured the people saying, “There is no need to panic. It is normal pneumonia, particularly affecting children in China. There is no need to worry here. DHSK is keeping a close eye. Whenever anybody has a respiratory illness, we need to isolate those patients, maintain distance, and follow other SOPs.”

Professor of Chest Medicine at GMC Anantnag, Dr Rafi Jan concurred, noting that while there have been no reported incidents in India, respiratory illnesses tend to increase in Kashmir during cold weather.
He urged people to take precautions, especially children and the elderly, advising them to avoid going outside during the morning and evening hours in cold weather. The Health Ministry has urged states and Union Territories to assess their public health and hospital preparedness measures in response to the advisory.

The directive emphasises the need for adequate availability of human resources, hospital beds, essential medications, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, and reagents.

Healthcare facilities are urged to ensure the proper functioning of oxygen plants and ventilators and review infection control protocols to prevent the spread of infections, as outlined in the Health Ministry’s directive.

The Health Ministry has also advised the implementation of the ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the Context of COVID-19’. These guidelines establish a framework for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens, including influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI).

According to reports, China, still grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, faces a new challenge as an enigmatic pneumonia outbreak spreads rapidly through its educational institutions. Despite the unsettling memories of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese health officials have clarified that the current outbreak is due to a combination of known pathogens, dispelling concerns about a new virus.

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