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China 'under-representing' severity of Covid-19 surge

Since December, China has recorded only 22 Covid-19 deaths

WHO Tigray

The World Health Organization (WHO) criticized China's narrow definition of what constitutes a Covid-19 death and accused it of 'under-representing' the severity of its Covid-19 outbreak. Officials of the health organization have urged Beijing to share more data about the virus spread.

“We continue to ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive, real-time viral sequencing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told CNN.

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

Since December, China has recorded only 22 Covid-19 deaths. Beijing has also narrowed the criteria for classifying Covid-related deaths. China's statistics regarding the wave might not reflect reality. 

According to a WHO report, there is a predominance of Omicron sublineages BA.5.2 and BF.7 among locally acquired infections.

“We believe that the current numbers being published from China under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told the Guardian. China has been listing only those who have succumbed to respiratory failure as having died of Covid-19. 

The explosive surge in China has raised concerns around the world regarding the potential emergence of new variants. The European Union, on Wednesday, “strongly encouraged” its member states to introduce a mandate for a negative Covid-19 test for passengers travelling from China. The US, France and Canada have already imposed a regulation that requires fliers from China to test negative for the coronavirus. 

“There’s a lot more data that needs to be shared from China and additionally from around the world so that we can track this pandemic as we enter this fourth year,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19 told CNN.

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