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Republican senators have called for the US to ban travel from China ‘immediately’ amid an outbreak of child pneumonia that is overwhelming hospitals.

Florida senator Marco Rubio said President Joe Biden ‘must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans’, after DailyMail.com revealed some parts of the US are also experiencing rises in cases.

‘That means we should immediately restrict travel between the United States and the [People’s Republic of China] until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness,’ he added. 

‘A ban on travel now could save our country from death, lockdowns, mandates, and further outbreaks later.’ Sen. Rubio and four other Republican senators – including JD Vance from Ohio and Rick Scott from Florida – called for the ban in a letter sent to the White House today.

But data seen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows  China’s outbreak is being driven by mycoplasma, a common bacterial infection that flares up every few years, and seasonal illnesses like RSV and flu.

Children and their parents wait at an outpatient area in a children's hospital in Beijing as the city's hospitals are overwhelmed with cases of a new virus

Children and their parents wait at an outpatient area in a children’s hospital in Beijing as the city’s hospitals are overwhelmed with cases of a new virus

Florida senator Marco Rubio said President Joe Biden 'must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans'

Florida senator Marco Rubio said President Joe Biden ‘must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans’ 

The letter said China had an ‘incentive to lie’ about the severity of its outbreak to protect ‘its economy’.

‘As you know, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a long history of lying about public health crises,’ the letter reads.

‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP’s obfuscation of the truth, and lack of transparency, robbed the United States of vital knowledge about the disease and its origin.

‘On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued an order to restrict travel from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] into the United States to protect the American people and counter the spread of COVID-19. 

‘Many officials and commentators—including you—criticized his decision as being influenced by ‘xenophobia.’ But history and common sense show his decision was the right one.’

Senators Tommy Tuberville, from Alabama, and Mike Braun, from Indiana, also attached their names to the letter.

Scenes of crowds of mask-wearing patients in hospitals and hazmat suit-clad workers spraying disinfectant through schools and streets in China in recent weeks have had chilling similarities to the early days of Covid.

But CDC director Mandy Cohen said Thursday that her agency is confident the outbreak is being caused by known pathogens that are rebounding post-pandemic.

‘We believe there is no new or novel pathogen,’ Cohen told House lawmakers.

The above highlights the two locations where rises in pneumonia cases in children have been reported in the US so far. They are Warren County, Ohio, and East Longmeadow, in Massachusetts

The above highlights the two locations where rises in pneumonia cases in children have been reported in the US so far. They are Warren County, Ohio, and East Longmeadow, in Massachusetts

The above graph shows deaths from pneumonia and flu among children aged under 18 years old since the 2019 to 2020 flu season. It shows that despite reports the current season nationwide is ‘not out of the ordinary’

‘These are related to existing pathogens — COVID, flu, RSV’ and mycoplasma, a bacterium that can infect the lungs.

Mycoplasma infects around 2million people in the US each year, usually when the immune system is low from another illness.

However, the bacterial infection is not routinely tested for and is usually mild, so the CDC says the ‘true numbers are likely higher’.

Cohen said the Chinese explanation for its outbreak has been corroborated by ‘other sources from our European Union partners and others to make sure that we are getting a complete picture.’ 

But the Republican senators said the infections were suspicious, warning: ‘If history is any indication, we have cause to be concerned.’

‘The WHO has requested that the CCP share “detailed information” about the mystery illness,’ the letter adds.

‘However, CCP has an incentive to lie, just as they did throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and any new pathogen could derail its efforts to stimulate its economy.

‘Besides, we should not wait for the WHO to take action given its track record of slavish deference to the CCP. 

‘We must take the necessary steps to protect the health of Americans, and our economy. That means we should immediately restrict travel between the United States and the PRC until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness.’

Since the outbreak in northern China was first reported last month, cases of ‘myco’ have also exploded in parts of Europe.

On Thursday, this website revealed how a county in Ohio had also seen ‘extremely high’ cases of childhood pneumonia, some of whom tested positive for mycoplasma.

More than 140 children in Warren County have been struck down by pneumonia since August. Mycoplasma is not routinely tested for, which makes exact case numbers hard to come by.

The above image pictures the lungs during 'white lung syndrome' or acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is diagnosed via the white spots or opaque areas appearing in the lungs. The above patient was a 57-year-old man in 2014

The above image pictures the lungs during ‘white lung syndrome’ or acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is diagnosed via the white spots or opaque areas appearing in the lungs. The above patient was a 57-year-old man in 2014

A man using respirator for breathing is being carried to the ambulance vehicle by medical personnel, in Shanghai, China, 29 November 2023. It's unclear if the photo is relevant to the latest outbreak

A man using respirator for breathing is being carried to the ambulance vehicle by medical personnel, in Shanghai, China, 29 November 2023. It’s unclear if the photo is relevant to the latest outbreak

Western Massachusetts is also recording high levels of ‘walking pneumonia’, a milder form of the condition for which mycoplasma can be a cause. 

RSV, flu, strep and other viral infections can also cause pneumonia when they spread to the lungs.

Dr Amesh Adalja, from Johns Hopkins University, told DailyMail.com the global phenomenon is not being caused by a single virus, but the mixture of several pathogens hitting at once.

He said mycoplasma was ‘cyclical’, hitting in waves around every five years. ‘Mycoplasma goes through epidemic cycles every few years and that may be what’s occurring globally at the moment.’

Global immunity against seasonal illnesses is also low because pandemic restrictions robbed people of immunity against the infections – especially China, which locked down harder and longer.

‘So what’s happening in China makes sense’, Dr Adalja said, adding: ‘Last year we [the US] was dominated by so much Covid, flu and RSV when we opened up.’

Children are particularly vulnerable because social interaction during people’s early developmental years is crucial.

‘When children are born they haven’t experienced any infectious diseases, so the more of them you have in the population so lower threshold for an outbreak to start.

‘The pandemic allowed the number of these susceptible people to build up over years.’

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This post first appeared on Daily Mail

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