WHO criticizes China for ‘underrepresenting’ COVID-19 cases, ‘narrow’ definition of infected deaths

WHO criticizes China for 'underrepresenting' COVID-19 cases, 'narrow' definition of infected deaths

Geneva []Jan 6 (ANI): officials, who have grappled with ’s tight controls on data access throughout the pandemic, have grown increasingly vocal in their demands for reliable information as a major outbreak rips through ’s urban centers in the wake of an abrupt easing of disease controls last month, CNN reported.

The WHO has accused China of “underrepresenting” the severity of its Covid outbreak and criticized its “narrow” definition of what constitutes a Covid death, as top global health officials urge Beijing to share more information about the explosive spread.

“We continue to ask China for faster, regular and reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive real-time virus sequencing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.

“The WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination, including booster doses, to protect against hospitalization, serious illness and death,” he said.

The WHO’s executive director for emergencies, Mike Ryan, said in more detail that the figures released by China “underrepresent the true impact of the disease” in terms of hospital and intensive care admissions, as well as deaths, CNN reported.

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

The country only lists those Covid patients who succumbed to respiratory failure as having died of Covid. In the two weeks before January 5, China reported fewer than 20 deaths from local Covid cases, according to figures released on the website of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the country has always shared epidemic information “in a prompt, open and transparent manner” and insisted its Covid situation was “under control,” CNN reported.

China continues to fight the sudden increase in Covid cases following the relaxation of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) zero-Covid policy.

Moreover, the scale of the current outbreak of Covid infections has made it difficult for the authorities to trace the Covid infections, after the mandatory mass testing ended as part of the easing of the Covid restrictions.

Chinese hospitals and crematoria are also struggling with an influx of patients and dead bodies with rural areas facing most of the burden.

However, the Chinese authorities have spread a narrative that the peak of the current Covid wave had already passed in most cities, including Beijing, to address the concerns of both the domestic and international communities and to justify the CCP’s announcement of further relaxation of epidemic prevention and control measures from January 8, CNN reported.

With the annual holiday beginning on January 15, rural areas may witness a further spike in Covid infections due to the workforce returning from the cities to their respective villages.

The rise in cases in a country of 1.4 billion has also raised global concerns about the potential emergence of new variants — and about China’s levels of surveillance and data sharing, CNN reported.

A number of countries have implemented Covid testing requirements for travelers from China, citing a lack of data on strains circulating there.

On Wednesday, the EU “strongly encouraged” its member states to introduce a requirement for a negative Covid test for passengers traveling from China to the EU, according to a statement from the Swedish presidency of the bloc.

China’s foreign ministry earlier this week condemned the measures as unscientific and promised to take “corresponding countermeasures for different situations in accordance with the principle of reciprocity”. (ANI)

Source: sn.dk




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