china pneumonia
A news clip taken from FTV News appears to show a busy hospital waiting room in China with children receiving intravenous drips
Scientists today called for vigilance and transparency from China amid reports of a mystery pneumonia outbreak - which has eerie similarities to the early Covid outbreak.

Hospitals in Beijing and 500 miles northeast in Liaoning are among those 'overwhelmed with sick children' with unusual symptoms that include inflammation in the lungs and a high fever, according to local news reports.

Dr Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician who is part of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said on X (formerly Twitter) that the illness 'could be anything' as China did not reveal what they have tested for.

Dr Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School of Public Health, told that more transparency is needed from China to avoid repeating the attempted cover-up of the Covid pandemic in 2019.

Comment: Covid came out of a US bioweapons laboratory: Compelling Evidence That SARS-CoV-2 Was Man-Made

Dr Neil Stone, an infectious diseases specialist doctor at the University College Hospital in London, also said that the alert must be taken seriously.

Harvard-trained epidemiologist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding said the skyrocketing cases are 'worrying' as they do not appear to be mild.

The alert around China was issued late on Tuesday via ProMed - a large, publicly available global surveillance system that monitors infectious diseases.

It was a ProMed notification back in December 2019 that brought a mystery virus, later given the name of Covid, to the attention of many doctors and scientists, including officials at the World Health Organization. was one of the first Western news outlets to report on the earliest Covid patients in 2019, which were reported at the time as having a mystery illness.

The source for the alert was a report by the Taiwanese outlet FTV News, which added that 'parents questioned whether the authorities were covering up the epidemic.'

China was roundly criticized for covering up the original SARS epidemic in 2003 and the Covid pandemic in late 2019 - which were both novel viruses that cause pneumonia.

Comment: Many Western governments initially claimed that Covid was nothing to worry about, until they all, rather suddenly and in lockstep, baselessly claimed that it was an illness akin to something like the Spanish flu.

Dr Nuzzo told more transparency is needed from China on the latest outbreak but added that she would 'hold all countries to that same standard.'

She said: 'Seeing an increased number of people presenting at any hospital is, of course, alarming.

'It may not be out of the ordinary, we do tend to see [increases] seasonally, so it's really too early to say. But any time we see people going to the hospital, we have reason to be concerned about it.'

Dr Neil Stone, an infectious diseases specialist doctor at the University College Hospital in London , said on X (formerly Twitter ): 'The last time I saw reports of an outbreak of undiagnosed pneumonia in China thought, big deal. [It] won't amount to much.

'That was in December 2019. Not making that same mistake again.'

But the new outbreak could be related to mycoplasma pneumoniae, also known as walking pneumonia, which is reportedly growing in China as the country goes into its first winter without strict Covid lockdowns in place.

The US and UK also saw spikes in infections like RSV and flu after pandemic rules lifted.

Comment: And so could it be due to the children's naive and possibly compromised immune systems?

Dr Feigl-Ding also said that the speculation that the illness is walking pneumonia is 'a vague lumping.'

He said: 'We don't know the infectious agent. And this is not typical "walking pneumonia" since this new outbreak is not mild.'

State-run media outlet Sixth Tone reported that one-tenth of patients are coming from out of town because they cannot access bronchoscopies in their hometown.

' This worries me,' Dr Feigl-Ding said, as bronchoscopies are not usually needed for mild cases of the infection.

FTV News reported that Beijing Children's Hospital was still overcrowded in the early morning on Wednesday.

The Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that more than 3,500 cases of 'respiratory infection' had been admitted to the Beijing Children's Hospital at the start of October, Radio Free Asia reported.

A staff member at the Beijing Friendship Hospital pediatrics department said there is a 24-hour wait for emergency cases to be seen.

'They're still dealing with calls we took yesterday,' the worker said. 'They haven't even started on today's calls yet - there are at least 1,000 people waiting in the queue ahead of you.

'The calls coming in today won't get seen until tomorrow... We're taking more than 1,000 calls a day.'

According to state-run Haibao News, the Children's Hospital of Capital Institute of Pediatrics had so many patients on Tuesday that the outpatient desk stopped accepting new patients by the afternoon.

At that point, 628 people were waiting in line to see a doctor at the emergency department.

Hospitals in Beijing and almost 500 miles northeast in Liaoning are among those 'overwhelmed with sick children,' according to local news reports.

Elsewhere, FTV News said: 'The situation in Liaoning Province is also grim.'

The lobby of Dalian Children's Hospital is reportedly full of sick children receiving intravenous drips.

There are also long queues of patients at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and the Central Hospital.

A staff member of Dalian Central Hospital said: 'Patients have to wait in line for two hours, and we are all in the emergency department and there are no general outpatient clinics.'

Some school classes have been canceled altogether. Not only are all students sick, but teachers are also infected with pneumonia.

Mr Wei, a Beijing citizen, told FTV News: 'Many, many are hospitalized. They don't cough and have no symptoms. They just have a high temperature (fever) and many develop pulmonary nodules.'

An editor's note by ProMed said: 'This report suggests a widespread outbreak of an undiagnosed respiratory illness... It is not at all clear when this outbreak started, as it would be unusual for so many children to be affected so quickly.

'The report does not say that any adults were affected, suggesting some exposure at the schools.

'ProMed awaits more definitive information about the etiology and scope of this concerning illness in China.'

Pneumonia is an infection that affects one of both lungs, which can be deadly. The air sacs in the lungs may fill with fluid or pus.

Generally, pneumonia is not contagious, but the respiratory viruses and bacteria that lead to it are.

Walking pneumonia, which typically affects younger children, causes a sore throat, tiredness and a cough that can last up to months. It is called walking pneumonia as symptoms are usually mild enough for patients to continue walking around.

In serious cases, the illness can become pneumonia.

On Friday evening, Sun Rui rushed her three-year-old daughter, who had a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), to the Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital in Tongzhou District, Beijing, state-run media outlet Sixth Tone reported.

She was forced to wait alongside 'hundreds' of other parents for 13 hours to be seen by a physician, who diagnosed her daughter with mycoplasma pneumonia.

Local media outlets reported last month that hospitals across China were seeing skyrocketing infections.

Zhou Huixia, director of the children's medical center at the Seventh Medical Center of the Chinese PLA General Hospital, told China Daily: 'It is the first wave of mycoplasma pneumoniae infections since most Covid-19 containment measures were lifted at the beginning of this year.

'The wave has appeared particularly ferocious since the National Day holiday in early October. Compared to previous years, we found more patients with mixed infections, drug resistance and lobar pneumonia.'

Lobar pneumonia affects one or more sections - lobes - of the lungs.

Infection numbers are due to peak in November, but concerns about antibiotic resistance are growing.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is becoming more and more resistant to macrolides, a class of drugs commonly used to treat pneumonia.

A study published in February last year found that macrolide resistance was seen in more than 80 percent of mycoplasma pneumoniae in children hospitalized by the bacteria in China.

So far, very few children have died from walking pneumonia.

Dr Hua Shaodong, a paediatrician at the Beijing Children's Hospital, told China Daily:

'There is a steady number of patients developing severe cases, but there are very few critical cases, and there are no related deaths so far.

'The average days in [the] hospital for hospitalized patients is around seven to 14 days.'

Wang Quanyi, deputy director of the Beijing CDC and chief epidemiologist, said that influenza, adenovirus and RSV are the top three respiratory infectious diseases in children at the moment.

On December 30, 2019, a ProMed 'RFI' (request for information) post - the same type as the pneumonia alert - was the initial warning of the Covid outbreak in Wuhan, China.