Spread of flu more prevalent than COVID

By Li Hongyang (China Daily) 09:57, January 15, 2024

Since the start of this year, the number of visits to fever clinics across China has fluctuated but has overall trended downward, the nation's health authority said on Sunday.

Medical services are being provided in a stable and well-organized way, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission.

Currently, among respiratory diseases, influenza remains predominant, while the infection levels of the novel coronavirus are at a relatively low level, Mi said.

"As the Spring Festival holiday approaches, the potential for large-scale population movement and gatherings poses an increased risk of respiratory disease transmission," he said.

He called for effective monitoring, early warning systems and better management at key locations.

Timely health consultations and guidance will be provided to vulnerable groups, including the elderly, pregnant women, children and those with chronic existing health conditions, he said.

Convenient access to vaccines will also be ensured for these populations, he said.

Over the past few weeks, the influenza B virus surpassed the influenza A virus in prevalence in some regions, so individuals at high risk should consider getting vaccinated, said Wang Dayan, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at the news conference.

She said that southern provinces entered the flu season in early October, followed by northern provinces later in the month.

Over the past five weeks, northern provinces have seen the influenza B virus surge to 57.7 percent of all the infected cases, while southern provinces recorded a 36.8 percent increase over the past three weeks, Wang said.

Distinguishing between influenza A and B viruses is challenging based solely on clinical symptoms. To identify the virus type, nucleic acid and antigen detection are necessary, she said.

It's crucial to note that immunity developed after contracting one type of influenza virus does not protect against others, and vaccination is necessary, she added.

Meanwhile, China's COVID-19 situation has remained at a low level since New Year's Day, Wang said.

Various monitoring systems indicated that the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing in specific hospitals is below 1 percent, she said, adding that the JN.1 variant of the coronavirus, known for its rapid global spread, is on the rise.

In the short term, the dominant factor is expected to be the influenza virus. Factors such as the influx of the JN.1 variant and a decline in population immunity could contribute to a potential resurgence of COVID-19 infections this month, she said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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