In response to an increase in respiratory illnesses, particularly pneumonia cases, among children in Northern China, Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj announced on Thursday that experts would conduct tests to identify the circulating pathogen and determine whether it warrants special attention.
The diagnostic method, known as multiplex PCR, involves the simultaneous amplification of different DNA sequences. This test will be performed on samples obtained from Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Hospital and Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya.
Expressing concern over the situation, Bharadwaj issued directives to the state health department to ensure an ample supply of anti-viral drugs specifically for children in the city. Additionally, he mandated COVID-like preparedness in the pediatric departments of city hospitals.
To address public concerns, Bharadwaj emphasized that a basic advisory would be issued to prevent unnecessary panic. He highlighted the expected rise in seasonal health issues such as cough, cold, and influenza as temperatures decrease, particularly in the upcoming month of January.
In a collaborative effort with experts from government hospitals, including pulmonologists and pediatric pulmonologists, Bharadwaj stated that, as of now, there is no unidentified pathogen in circulation. He underscored that during this season, various bacterial and viral pathogens are commonly observed among patients.
Concerns about respiratory illnesses have escalated, prompting the Union Health Ministry to conduct a comprehensive review of preparedness measures. Advisories have been issued to all states and union territories, urging an immediate review of public health and hospital preparedness. This includes assessing the availability of human resources, hospital beds, influenza drugs and vaccines, medical oxygen, antibiotics, personal protective equipment, testing kits, reagents, the functionality of oxygen plants and ventilators, and infection control practices in health facilities. The Union Health Secretary’s letter stresses the importance of senior-level attention to these measures in light of the situation in China.