WHO calls for “transparency” of Covid data as China prepares to open its borders.
The UK joined other nations in enacting travel restrictions, blaming a lack of data. The World Health Organization encouraged China’s health officials once more to frequently disclose specific, real-time information on the country’s Covid increase.
In a meeting with Chinese officials on Friday, WHO Covid experts “reiterated the significance of transparency and regular data exchange to formulate accurate risk assessments and to inform effective action,” according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO.
WHO also asked for more information on genetic sequencing, hospitalizations, deaths, and admissions to intensive care units, as well as information on immunizations administered and vaccination status, particularly in vulnerable populations and persons over 60.
At a WHO technical meeting scheduled for January 3rd, Chinese experts have been invited to submit comprehensive data on viral sequencing.
China’s National Health Commission merely mentioned that its health officials had discussions with the WHO about the meeting and that more technical discussions will take place.
The swift termination of Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid campaign has led to an increase in Covid infections throughout China and questions about its official data, which has led to the resumption of health checks in Europe and other parts of the world.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese workers are anticipated to return to their regional hometowns during the lunar new year, many of whom are anticipated to bring the disease with them to areas with fewer medical facilities. China is expected to significantly relax its travel restrictions on inbound and outbound travel beginning on January 8.
Chinese state media stated that the number of emergency patients at Shanghai’s major hospitals had doubled in the previous few days, prompting requests for non-urgent patients to be transferred to smaller hospitals.
The state-backed Global Times reported on Friday that there were 1,500 emergency room visits each day at the city’s Ruijin hospital, with 80% of those visits coming from Covid patients.
As a result of a decision to conform to US policy, the UK became the most recent nation to impose restrictions. The government’s belief that there is a dearth of trustworthy data from China led to the decision.
The US ascribed its most recent policy adjustment to a lack of knowledge of Covid variants and worries that the rise in cases in China would lead to the emergence of new variants.
Tobias Ellwood, a British MP and the head of the Commons defense select committee, stated that amid doubts about the accuracy of China’s data, the government’s Cobra emergency reaction committee ought to have been called.
“We should be taking our own safety precautions… We are unaware of any Covid variants that may have emerged in China during the three years they have been under lockdown, he told LBC radio. “Any delay makes us a captive of chance… Any action will have less of an effect the later it is taken.
A major travel hub, Singapore, announced on Friday that it would increase capacity “cautiously” when Chinese travel abroad resumed. Singapore’s health ministry stated that its primary concerns were the introduction of new and more hazardous varieties and the possible impact that sick travelers could have on the country’s healthcare system.
The data on Covid variations provided by Beijing was not sufficiently accurate, according to Germany’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, who also stated that it was “not yet required” to bring back mandatory testing for travelers entering the borderless Schengen area via Germany from China. As a result, he said, “we very much have to rely on doing that ourselves, for instance by thoroughly reviewing individual flights.”
In an effort to undercut China’s reopening, the state-run media in China has labeled the reinstatement of traveler screening rules as “discriminatory” and politically driven.
Liang Wannian, a senior Covid official, told reporters on Thursday that China actively participated in global pathogen surveillance and would promptly notify the WHO “when a novel variant is detected or when the mutation causes a change in virulence or transmissibility of the virus”.