WHO director says China’s COVID spike not due to lifting of restrictions

  • China’s containment measures have not stopped COVID-19, says WHO
  • Countries should ask for the right people to be adequately vaccinated
  • Open channels between China and WHO – Ryan

GENEVA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – COVID-19 infections in China had exploded before the government’s decision to abandon its strict “zero-Covid” policy, the director of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, a sudden reversal. In cases.

The WHO’s emergencies director Mike Ryan’s comments came as he warned of the need to ramp up vaccinations in the world’s No.2 economy.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the virus was spreading “severely” in the country long before restrictions were lifted.

“There’s a narrative that China lifted restrictions at this point and suddenly the disease is out of control,” he said.

“I believe that the disease spread aggressively because the control measures in themselves did not contain the disease. And I believe that is not the best option for China strategically.”

Beijing began moving away from its signature “zero-Covid” policy this month after protests against economically damaging sanctions imposed by President Xi Jinping.

The sudden easing of restrictions has prompted long lines outside flu clinics, a worrying sign that a wave of infections is building, although the official number of new cases has fallen recently as authorities eased back on testing.

In its most recent COVID report for the week to November 27, the WHO said China had increased the number of hospitalizations for four consecutive weeks.

“So there’s still a challenge for China and other countries: people who need to be vaccinated, enough vaccines, the right vaccines and the right number of doses and when those people last got the vaccines,” Ryan said. .

Western vaccination

China’s rejoicing over policy changes that allowed people to live with the virus quickly faded amid growing concerns about rising infections because the population lacks “herd immunity” and vaccination rates among the elderly are low.

WHO senior epidemiologist Maria Van Gerkov said the UN agency was providing technical advice to China and that there were open channels.

Among the first major announced deals for a Western drugmaker to supply China with COVID treatments is China Meheco Group Co Ltd. (600056.SS) It said on Wednesday that it imports and distributes Pfizer (PFE.N) Oral covid-19 treatment paxlovit.

Earlier at the conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “optimistic” that the pandemic, which has killed more than 6.6 million people since it emerged in Wuhan, China, three years ago, would no longer be considered a global emergency for some time to come. year.

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

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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