The number of flu cases reported in Beijing is increasing at a slower rate, and the spread of infections is predicted to lessen in the next two weeks, the Beijing Commission of Health and Family Planning said on Jan 15.
The number of flu cases reported in Beijing has been rising rapidly since December, with children younger than 4 accounting for the biggest share among people of all age groups, Gao Xiaojun, spokesman of the commission, said at a news conference.
"The intensity of flu infection is expected to be further reduced with a smaller population concentration with the arrival of the winter vacation for schools and kindergartens, and Spring Festival," he said.
Like many other places in China this winter, Beijing has been hit by one of the worst flu epidemics in recent years.
Beijing reported 9,548 cases in the first week of this year, a rise of more than 21 percent compared with the previous week, according to the commission.
The number of cases reported for the last week of 2017 was 7,872, a rise of more than 48 percent compared with the previous week, the data showed.
"Statistics show the number of flu cases seen by major public hospitals in Beijing has declined," Gao said.
At Beijing Children's Hospital, the number of patients treated by the respiratory department decreased to fewer than 4,000, from more than 4,600 on Jan 6, he said.
Even though the number of flu cases in Beijing this year has been higher than the average for the past three years, monitoring shows no apparent mutation among flu strains in Beijing, which could worsen the infectiousness, spread and severity of the virus, Gao said, ruling out the possibility of a major flu epidemic in Beijing.
Liu Ying, deputy chief for medical administration and supervision at the commission, said some smaller clinics, including many community health centers in Beijing, do not treat patients displaying flulike symptoms such as fever because fever may result from some more serious diseases, such as leukemia or complications from stroke.
She urged those with higher complication risks, such as children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, to go to large hospitals if possible for treatment.
At around 1 pm, a long line of parents with children wearing masks in tow were gathered at the Pediatric Emergency Department at China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing.
Sun Chunxia, a 38-year-old Beijing resident, said her daughter had had a high fever the entire day.
"She got a high fever, over 39.5 C, last night and the fever rose to a high level three times," Sun said.
It's the second time that the 5-year-old, Yang Yufei, has had a fever this winter, Sun added.
Cui Mingzhe, a 6-year-old boy who had a fever of 39.8 C, was in the same situation. Cui had had a high fever for the past 48 hours and couldn't move, according to his mother.
"The past weekend he had fever, and we just decided to take a half-day leave to go to the clinic," said Han Chunyan, the boy's mother.
In Cui Mingzhe's kindergarten in Chaoyang district, 18 of 45 students in his class fell ill over the past week, Han said.
Han went to the community hospital last night but there was no specialized pediatric clinic. "So we directly came here to see a doctor," she said.
Six clinical stations have been staffed by doctors to see children in winter at China-Japan Friendship Hospital. An average of around 500 patients came to see doctors in the emergency department per day this winter with over 20,000 patients a month on average.