COVID surge in China not due to lifting of restrictions, says WHO chief

COVID surge in China not due to lifting of restrictions, says WHO chief
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  • WHO says China’s control measures were not stopping COVID-19
  • Countries must ask themselves if the right people are sufficiently vaccinated
  • Open channels between China and WHO: Ryan

GENEVA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – COVID-19 infections were exploding in China long before the government’s decision to abandon its strict “COVID zero” policy, a head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, overturning suggestions that the sudden change caused an increase. .In the cases.

The comments from WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan came as he warned of the need to ramp up vaccinations in the world’s number one country. 2 economy.

Speaking at a media briefing, he said the virus was spreading “intensively” in the nation long before the lifting of restrictions.

“There is a narrative at the time that China lifted the restrictions and all of a sudden the disease is out of control,” he said.

“The disease was spreading intensely because I think control measures by themselves were not stopping the disease. And I think China strategically decided that was no longer the best option.”

Beijing began to move away from its signature “zero-COVID” policy this month after protests against economically damaging restrictions advocated by President Xi Jinping.

The sudden loosening of restrictions has led to long queues outside fever clinics in a worrying sign that a wave of infections is mounting, even though official counts of new cases have trended lower recently as the authorities reduced testing.

In your most recent COVID report for the week ending November 1. On February 27, the WHO said that China had reported an increase in hospitalizations for four consecutive weeks.

“So the challenge that China and other countries still have is: are the people who need to be vaccinated, vaccinated properly, with the correct vaccines and the correct number of doses and when was the last time those people received the vaccines?” Ryan said.


Euphoria in China over changes to the policy allowing people to live with the virus has quickly faded amid growing concerns about rising infections as the population lacks “herd immunity” and low vaccination rates. among the elderly.

WHO chief epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said the UN agency was providing technical advice to China and Ryan said channels were open.

Among the first major deals announced in which a Western drugmaker will supply China with COVID therapies, China Meheco Group Co Ltd (600056.SS) said on wednesday mind to and distribute Pfizer’s (PFE.N) COVID-19 Paxlovid oral treatment.

Earlier at the briefing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “hopeful“That the pandemic, which has killed more than 6.6 million people since it emerged in Wuhan, China, three years ago, will no longer be considered a global emergency sometime next year.

Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Written by Josephine Mason in London; Editing by Alison Williams, Raissa Kasolowsky, Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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