China Covid: Beijing ‘under-representing’ true impact of outbreak, WHO says


The World Health Organization has accused China of “representing” the severity of the Covid outbreak and criticized its “narrow” definition of what constitutes a Covid death, as global health leaders urge Beijing to share more data about the spread of explosives.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference in Geneva Wednesday, “We ask China for fast, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as a comprehensive virus system.

“WHO is concerned about the risks to life in China and reiterates the need for vaccination, including boosters, to prevent hospitalization, serious illness, and death,” he said.

Speaking in detail, WHO director-general for health emergencies Mike Ryan said the numbers released by China “represent the impact of the disease” in terms of hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as well as deaths.

He acknowledged that many countries have seen lags in reporting hospital data, but pointed to China’s “narrow” definition of Covid deaths as part of the issue.

This country lists only those Covid patients who failed to breathe and died from Covid. In the two weeks before January 5, China reported no fewer than 20 deaths from Covid cases, according to figures released on the website of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Thursday, China’s foreign minister said the country always shares disease information “in a timely, open and transparent manner” and stressed that its Covid situation is “under control.”

“It is expected that WHO secretaries will take a scientific, objective and moral position and do a good job in spreading this disease worldwide,” said spokesman Mao Ning at a daily news briefing.

Chinese experts will attend the regular WHO member state meeting on Thursday to “respond to technical issues affecting others,” Mao said, adding that China will continue to monitor the virus’s evolution and issue important information.

WHO officials, who have largely escaped Beijing’s tight control of data during the outbreak, are increasingly vocal in their calls for more reliable information as the outbreak spreads across China. due to the sudden relaxation of disease control last month.

There, the outbreak has overwhelmed hospitals and hotbeds, sparked shortages of essential medicines, and raised fears of months to come as experts warn of regional spread rural areas without property during the New Year period next month.

The boom in the country of 1.4 billion has raised global concerns about the emergence of new forms of diversity – and China’s level of surveillance and data sharing. Many countries have implemented requirements for Covid testing for travelers from China, citing a lack of data and models circulating there.

On Wednesday, the European Union “strongly encouraged” its member states to introduce a requirement for a negative Covid test for travelers from China to the EU, according to a statement issued by the Swedish president of the group.

Tedros of the WHO said on Wednesday it is “understandable” that some countries are taking these measures, “distributing in China a lot and the complete data will not come.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this week criticized the measures as unscientific and promised to take “preventive measures appropriate to different situations according to the principle of reciprocity.”

In an online statement updated Thursday, GISAID – the international initiative for the sharing of genomic data for the virus and Covid-19 – said that China continued to “step up” its monitoring efforts and the first analysis showed that the reported data were similar to known strains. spreading. worldwide.

Chinese health officials also provided recent genomic data to the WHO advisory group during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. In a statement on Wednesday, a group of WHO advisers said that the variety discovered in China is known to be circulating in other countries, with no new species reported by the Chinese CDC.

But advice group and WHO leaders stressed the need for more genomic data to come. The new situation adds to a long-term challenge for the UN organization, which has faced criticism that the start of the disease makes China tight for data despite Beijing’s concern that sensitive information is being covered up.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical leader on Covid said on Wednesday that “There is a lot more data that needs to be shared from China and from around the world so that we can follow this disease as we enter the fourth year. ”

“We need more information about the systems around the country, (and for) how those systems can be shared with publicly available databases like GISAID so that in-depth research can be done,” he said. .


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