China’s Pneumonia Spike Sparks Concerns in Japan

A professor at Tokyo Medical University said Mycoplasma pneumonia is a rare cause of severe illness in contrast to the current infection in China.
China’s Pneumonia Spike Sparks Concerns in Japan
Parents with children suffering from respiratory diseases line up at a children's hospital in Chongqing, China, on Nov. 23, 2023. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
12/3/2023
Updated:
12/4/2023
0:00

China is wrestling with a spike in respiratory illness among children, promoting concerns of potential transmission in the region.

The ongoing pneumonia epidemic has led to hospitals being overwhelmed with patients and the suspension of classes in schools among megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, and northeast China provinces.

On Dec. 2, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s National Health Commission held a press conference, during which Dr. Wang Dayan, the director of the National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC) said regarding the respiratory illnesses outbreak in China that ventilation and disinfection should be increased in crowded public places, and disinfection and cleaning of frequently touched public facilities should be more frequent. She also said that gatherings of people in public places should be reduced and that people should wear masks at airports, stations, public transportation, farmers markets, and other places.

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing released a notice on Nov. 30 to Japanese residents in China—a population of 100,000, advising them to take preventive measures against the respiratory illness and promptly seek medical attention in case children face severe symptoms such as high fever.

The Japanese School of Beijing, affiliated with the Japanese embassy, has seen infected patients, and the number is increasing. As of Nov. 29, the school’s four elementary classes and one junior class have been closed.

China’s Health Ministry asserted that mycoplasma pneumonia caused the current outbreak among children.

Atsuro Hamada, a professor at Tokyo Medical University, recommended the public pay close attention and take precautions against the infectious disease sweeping through China. That kind of contagious respiratory disease, he said, is transmitted by droplets, so approaches against COVID-19 are also applicable, for example, precautions of washing hands regularly, disinfecting with alcohol, and wearing masks.

Mr. Hamada told Japanese media NHK on Nov. 29 that Mycoplasma pneumonia is a rare cause of severe illness and is unlikely to cause a pandemic. In contrast, the current infection cases in China display resistance to antimicrobials.

Echoing Mr. Hamada’s view, Professor Horimasa of the Graduate School of Infection Control at Juntendo University said treatment for patients with mycoplasma pneumonia can usually be effective within three or four days, while the situation is different in China.

Such drug-resistant pneumonia is not yet prevalent in Japan, he said.

Regardless of the spike in serious respiratory infections, the CCP has eased restrictions on international travel. On Nov. 24, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that from Dec. 1 this year to Nov. 30, 2024, it would grant visa-free access for 15 days to holders of ordinary passports from six countries including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia.

Reactions From Japanese Citizens

The surge in more serious respiratory cases has stoked some fear over the disease affecting Chinese rippling across the East China Sea to Japan.

Some Japanese citizens like Ms. Sato, a housewife, raised questions on the source of the new wave of infections surge in China, “Lies and cover-ups are the norm for the CCP. Is this another wave of Wuhan pneumonia?”

Mr. Yamada, the owner of an izakaya bar in Osaka, expressed concern that the virus sweeping through China may enter Japan via tour groups. He said he did not expect to see a repeat of the COVID-related disaster. “The epidemic has been fluctuating for a few years, and the economy is just getting better, so if it comes back again, we won’t be able to handle it.”

A group of Chinese tourists walks through the Ginza district during China's National Day holiday in Tokyo, on Oct. 1, 2023. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
A group of Chinese tourists walks through the Ginza district during China's National Day holiday in Tokyo, on Oct. 1, 2023. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Japanese resident Ms. Ida told the publication on Nov. 30 that large numbers of Chinese tourists are hanging around Japan every day. She knows on tourist sites, “about eight or nine tours in the morning and three or five tours in the evening, as well as many other Chinese individuals” are present. She said the CCP’s relaxed travel restrictions during the outbreak would be responsible for the virus spreading to other parts of the world, as happened previously.

Due to the CCP’s cover-up of the outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019 and the absence of restrictions on international travel, the COVID-19 virus spread across the globe, leading to millions of fatalities and numerous infections.

Starting on Nov. 28, Japan’s Nagasaki International University began inoculating teachers and students against influenza and COVID-19, which is expected to take three days to vaccinate 600 people. The university was one of the first to establish PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing and vaccination for COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, which started in central China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture issued its first warning of the season on Nov. 30, indicating that 8,206 people had been infected with influenza and COVID-19 during the week of Nov. 20–26, a 1.5-fold increase from the previous week.

Meanwhile, Japanese citizens have expressed their hopes that the Japanese government will take the appropriate measures this time without being swayed by the CCP into implementing overly aggressive anti-epidemic mandates that could endanger public health and squander national resources.

Mr. Yinoue, who works for the Japan Transportation Association of Inoue, said the impact of Chinese childhood pneumonia on Japan is “worrying.”

Preferring to be cited by his surname, Mr. Yinoue told The Epoch Times on Nov. 30 that he hoped the Japanese government would calmly analyze the situation and be careful not to overreact to whatever happens in China.

He believes that the previous response from authorities to the epidemic three years ago has caused immense tragedies in Japan, including all citizens being mandated to take experimental vaccines, abuse of state funds for medical purposes, high mortality rates, and business disruption of numerous small and medium-sized enterprises.

Kane Zhang is a reporter based in Japan. She has written on health topics for The Epoch Times since 2022, mainly focusing on Integrative Medicine. She also reports on current affairs related Japan and China.