A doctor has warned that the winter illness season in the UK could be fundamentally changed in the wake of the alarming pneumonia outbreak in China.
A similiar outbreak has already sprung up in Europe, after wreaking havoc on hospitals and schools in China. Hospitals, especially those in Beijing, quickly became overrun with children suffering from pneumonia, and many schools had to close. In the most extreme cases, the schools were then hosed down with disinfectant to combat the spread.
In Europe, the infection is mainly spreading in the Netherlands. The country has seen the number of children aged five to 14 years with pneumonia increase to 130 per 100,000 children in the week leading up to November 26, the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) reported. At its peak last year, it was 58 per 100,000 children.
However, it is still not known whether the increase of pneumonia cases in the Netherlands is linked to the outbreak in China.
In the UK, GPs have also seen more pneumonia cases in the group of young people between 15 and 24 years old than in previous years, with the number increasing to 38 per 100,000 last week.
In the wake of this increase and rising concerns, Dr Joseph Ambani has told the Daily Express about the changes the UK can expect to face this cold and flu season.
He admitted that “there is cause for concern” as more people are on high alert for the mysterious respiratory illness. He said: “The outbreak, while serious, provides an opportunity for the UK to strengthen its public health response and surveillance systems. Historically, respiratory illnesses, when introduced into a new population, have the potential to spread quickly, especially in densely populated areas.”
Dr Ambani argued that these changes to public health services, if the outbreak were to hit the UK, could actually be a positive thing, as they would heighten public awareness of good hygeine practicies, thereby also reducing the risk of common winter illnesses such as cold and flu. He is sure that the UK’s health infrastructure would “respond effectively”.
He believes that the pneumonia outbreak “could alter the dynamics of the upcoming cold and flu season in the UK” as it will force individuals and larger health infrastructures to act accordingly. He said: “We might see a higher level of public anxiety, leading to increased healthcare-seeking behaviour for respiratory symptoms.”
Increased public anxiety, especially when levels of illnesses are already high around this time of year, could “strain healtcare resources”. However, it could be “beneficial in detecting serious cases early”.
Pneumonia signs to spot as respiratory illness surge sparks new pandemic fears[LATEST]
Eight symptoms of China’s mystery White Lung virus to look out for[LATEST]
‘White lung’ pneumonia spreads after similar outbreak seen in China[LATEST]
Dr Ambani added: “The overlap of symptoms between this pneumonia, flu, and the common cold can complicate diagnoses. Hence, the UK might have to enhance its diagnostic capabilities, perhaps introducing more rapid testing methods in clinics and hospitals.”
He admitted that “concern is certainly justified” as to what will happen this winter illness season in the wake of the pneumonia outbreak from China, but was reassuring in his belief that the UK’s public health system “is not unprepared”.
He said: “By leveraging its healthcare infrastructure, promoting public awareness, and encouraging vaccination and hygiene practices, it can navigate this challenging period effectively.”
Dr Ambani stressed the importance of maintain good hygeine practices this cold and flu season to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading the respiratory illness, should it reach the UK. He suggested “frequent hand washing, using sanitizers, and
wearing masks in crowded places”.
He also reinforced the importance of staying up to date on vaccinations: “The importance of flu vaccinations cannot be overstated. Vaccination not only reduces the risk of flu but also helps in reducing the burden on healthcare services.”
A combination of good hygeine practices and ensuring you are fully vaccinated is the best way to mitigate the impact of the Chinese pneumonia on the current winter illness season, according to Dr Ambani.
- Support fearless journalism
- Read The Daily Express online, advert free
- Get super-fast page loading
Source: Read Full Article