BEIJING (Agencies): The Chinese Education Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had ordered the introduction of an epidemiological monitoring system in schools and kindergartens to conduct daily health checks amid a surge in seasonal respiratory diseases among children.

On Monday, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) ordered the improvement of medical facilities and increased working hours, if necessary, against the backdrop of rising respiratory diseases.

“It is necessary to bolster the creation of an epidemiological monitoring system, focus on setting up a system of morning and afternoon physical examinations in primary and middle schools and also in kindergartens, and to introduce a reporting system on the epidemiological situation, as well as a system to register absences due to illness,” the ministry document said.

School administrators were also advised to cooperate and consult with local health authorities. Teachers were recommended to work with children who cannot come to school through online platforms.

In mid-October, the NHC reported a spike in respiratory illnesses in the country. Authorities attributed the surge to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the spread of other pathogens. In late November, media reported undiagnosed pneumonia among children in northern China.

Last week, Russian consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said that China had seen an increase in pneumonia cases, especially among children in Beijing and the Liaoning province, as well as influenza. The main cause of pneumonia is the mycoplasma bacteria, whose incidence is cyclical and peaks every three to seven years, the watchdog said.

World Health Organization spokeswoman Margaret Harris said that outbreaks of mycoplasma pneumonia were normal in China during the winter and the disease was not considered to have pandemic potential at the time.

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