china: Rise in human bird flu cases in China shows risk of fast-changing variants

By Dominique Patton

BEIJING – A jump in the number of people in China infected with bird flu this year is raising concern among experts, who say a previously circulating strain appears to have changed and may be more infectious to people.

China has reported 21 human infections with the H5N6 subtype of avian influenza in 2021 to the World Health Organization (WHO), compared with only five last year, it said.

Though the numbers are much lower than the hundreds infected with H7N9 in 2017, the infections are serious, leaving many critically ill, and at least six dead.

“The increase in human cases in China this year is of concern. It’s a virus that causes high mortality,” said Thijs Kuiken, professor of comparative pathology at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam.

Most of the cases had come into contact with poultry, and there are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, said the WHO, which highlighted the rise in cases in a statement on Oct. 4.

It said further investigation was “urgently” required to understand the risk and the increase in spill over to people.

Since then, a 60-year-old woman in Hunan province was admitted to hospital in a critical condition

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Over 60% kids have natural antibodies, start schools immediately, say doctors, Health News, ET HealthWorld

NAGPUR: Claiming that over 60% of children from the school-going age groups already have natural antibodies against Covid-19, leading paediatricians in India have appealed to state governments to start schools, right from primary classes, without more delay.

“Not going to school for such a long period has already done major damage to the social, psychological and mental growth of this generation, which will take years to recover,” said Dr Dinesh Tomar, national general secretary of the National Neonatology Forum (NNF) India. He informed that Haryana state has taken a strategic policy to discontinue online school. “Online school is not even an option in Haryana. The state government has started schools for all classes and all kids are doing well,” he said.

NNF president and acclaimed paediatrician Dr Ranjan Kumar Pejaver said Karnataka too has allowed reopening of primary schools from Monday. “There is no risk in opening schools as far as teachers and staffs are fully vaccinated. Children have learned to follow distancing and are accustomed to wearing masks. Parents and caretakers should also get vaccinated and all will be well,” he said.

From October 23, Nagpur is hosting a conference of paediatricians ‘Neocon-2021’, the first major medical event in

View More Over 60% kids have natural antibodies, start schools immediately, say doctors, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Scientists, Health News, ET HealthWorld

NEW DELHI: India is unlikely to see a Covid wave like the devastating second one unless there is a new immune escaping variant but the lower number of cases does not necessarily mean the pandemic is now endemic, several experts have said.

Giving hope and also injecting a note of caution as the festive season peaks with Diwali just days ahead, they said a dipping Covid graph is only part of the picture and pointed to factors such as the mortality rate, the need for a larger vaccination cover and examples of countries such as UK where numbers are again rising.

Lauding the milestone of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses in India, virologist Shahid Jameel said vaccination rates have improved significantly but more needs to be done.

“I am not sure we are in the endemic state yet. As we celebrate this (100 crore) landmark, there is still some distance to go. We are going towards endemicity, but are not there yet,” Jameel, a visiting professor at Ashoka University in Haryana, told PTI in an email interview.

He also noted that daily confirmed COVID cases in India have been decreasing slowly over the past three months from about 40,000 per

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