'Very concerned' about COVID-19 situation in China: WHO chief
The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases in China. He appealed to the country to report detailed information on the severity of disease, hospital admissions, and intensive care requirements. WHO's Emergencies Director Mike Ryan said China could be struggling to track the number of COVID-19 cases.
Why does this story matter?
- After widespread protests against the strict lockdown laws for more than three months, China relaxed its restrictions under its 'zero-COVID-19' policy.
- Reportedly, many cities have relaxed quarantine rules, testing requirements, and control of movement since then.
- However, the country is now facing a fresh spike in coronavirus cases. Reports say crematoriums and healthcare facilities are becoming overwhelmed across China.
Ready to work with China to improve data collection: Ghebreyesus
Speaking at a weekly news conference, Ghebreyesus urged China to speed up the vaccination process, especially for the vulnerable and elderly—who are comparatively less vaccinated than the younger population. He said the WHO is supporting China in its vaccination efforts and was ready to work to improve the data collection process. Reports maintained that China's official data became less reliable amid decreased testing.
Too many uncertainties and gaps to call pandemic over: WHO
"We continue to call on #China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request. As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table"-@DrTedros https://t.co/nBWSwzwFV4— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) December 21, 2022
China reporting fewer cases in ICUs: WHO official
Chinese authorities said on Tuesday that only those who died of respiratory failure and pneumonia and had the virus would be counted under the COVID-19 death statistics. Ryan said China is reporting a lesser number of cases in ICUs, however, "anecdotally, ICUs are filling up." He said that China could be behind the curve and not actively hiding the reality of the situation.
German vaccine arrives in China for German expatriates
China has approved nine domestically developed COVID-19 vaccines—more than any other country—but those aren't updated to target the Omicron variant. Germany sent its first batch of BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to China, which the latter would administer to nearly 20,000 German expatriates. It's the first foreign COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered in China. In return, Chinese citizens in Germany could receive Sinovac, if they choose.