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

  • WHO says China’s containment measures against COVID-19 have not stopped
  • Countries should ask whether the right people are vaccinated
  • Open channels between China and WHO – Ryan

GENEVA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – The director of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 infections in China had exploded long before the government decided to abandon its strict “zero-COVID” policy, dismissing suggestions that The sudden change has caused a surge in growth. in cases.

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

Speaking at a media briefing, he said the virus had spread “heavily” in the country long before restrictions were lifted.

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“There’s a narrative right now that China has lifted restrictions and suddenly the disease is out of control,” he said.

“The disease was spreading rapidly because I believe that the control measures themselves did not stop the disease. And I believe that China strategically decided that this was no longer the best option.”

Beijing abandoned its signature “zero-COVID” policy this month after protests against the economically damaging restrictions backed by President Xi Jinping.

The sudden lifting of restrictions led to long queues at fever clinics, a worrying sign that the wave of infections is rising, although the official number of new cases has fallen recently as authorities have stepped up testing.

In its latest report on COVID for the week to November 27, the World Health Organization said China had reported an increase in hospitalizations for four consecutive weeks.

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“So the challenge that China and other countries still have is: the people who need to be vaccinated, getting enough vaccinated, with the right vaccines and the right doses, and when was the last time these people had the vaccines” Ryan said. .


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

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

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Among the first announced deals in which a Western drugmaker would supply China with a COVID treatment, China Meheco Group Co Ltd ( 600056.SS ) said on Wednesday it would import Pfizer’s ( PFE.N ) oral treatment Paxlovid and spreads.

Earlier in the briefing, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he was “hopeful” that the pandemic, which has killed more than 6.6 million people since it originated in Wuhan, China, would not be considered a global emergency in the next few days. year

Emma Farge’s report in Geneva; Writing of Josephine Mason in London; Edited by Alison Williams, Raissa Kasolovsky, Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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