New Delhi, November 24, 2023.

Union Health Ministry is closely monitoring the reported outbreak of H9N2 cases and clusters of respiratory illness in children in northern China. There is low risk to India from both the avian influenza case reported from China as well as the clusters of respiratory illness.

Some media reports have indicated clustering of cases of respiratory illness in children in northern China for which WHO has also issued a statement: (https://worldhealthorganizationdepartmentofcommunications.cmail20.com/t/d-e-vhduio-tyelrhjty-y/). Based on the currently available information, an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China has been reported in the last few weeks. The usual causes of respiratory illness in children have been implicated and there has been no identification of an unusual pathogen or any unexpected clinical manifestations.

A meeting was recently held under the Chairmanship of DGHS to discuss the preparedness measures against human cases of Avian Influenza in the country against the backdrop of a human case of H9N2 (Avian influenza virus) in October 2023 in China that was reported to WHO. The overall risk assessment by WHO indicates a low probability of human to human spread and low case fatality rate among human cases of H9N2 reported to WHO so far. The need for strengthening surveillance among human, animal husbandry and wild life sectors and improving coordination was recognised. 

India is prepared for any kind of public health exigency. India is embarking on a One Health approach to adopt a holistic and integrated roadmap towards addressing such public health issues. There has also been a significant strengthening of health infrastructure especially since the COVID pandemic. PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister which is developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, to prepare health systems in responding effectively to the current and future pandemics /disasters. In addition, India’s surveillance and detection networks under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) have rich experience of dealing with challenging health situations during the COVID-19 pandemic.