The World Health Organization (WHO) has again urged Chinese officials to share real-time data on the country’s rising COVID-19 infections so that other countries can respond effectively.

“The WHO again asked for regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation – including more genetic sequence data, data on the impact of the disease, including hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths,” it said. the United Nations agency in one statement on Friday after a meeting between Chinese and WHO officials.

“WHO stressed the importance of monitoring and the timely publication of data to help China and the global community formulate accurate risk assessments and underpin effective responses,” the World Health Organization said.

A surge in infections in China following the country’s lifting of its strict “zero COVID” policy has sparked global concern and has once again raised questions about China’s data reporting, which continues to show low official infection rates and few deaths. shows, despite evidence that some hospitals and morgues are overrun.

The talks came after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged Beijing to be more open about the pandemic situation.

The UN agency said the meeting was “to seek further information on the situation and to offer WHO’s expertise and further support”.

‘Time of Struggle’

In a televised address to mark the new year, President Xi Jinping called for greater effort and unity as the country enters a “new phase” in its approach to fighting the pandemic.

Xi said China had overcome unprecedented difficulties and challenges in the fight against COVID-19 and its policies were “optimized” when the situation and time required.

“Since the outbreak of the epidemic… the majority of cadres and masses, especially medical personnel, grassroots workers have braved hardship and courage,” said the president.

“At present, epidemic prevention and control is entering a new stage, it is still a time of struggle, everyone perseveres and works hard, and the dawn is coming. Let’s work harder, perseverance means victory and unity means victory.”

These were Xi’s first public comments on COVID-19 since his government rolled back strict measures “zero Covid” policy of three weeks ago, which has also led to a wave of infections.

The strict measures sparked unprecedented public protests, the strongest demonstration of open defiance in Xi’s decade-long presidency.

Meanwhile, WHO said officials from China’s National Health Commission and National Disease Control and Prevention Administration briefed the UN body on China’s evolving strategy and actions in epidemiology, variant monitoring, vaccination, clinical care, communication and research and development.

“WHO reiterated the importance of vaccination and boosters to protect those at higher risk from serious illness and death,” the Geneva-based organization said.

“WHO called on China to strengthen viral sequencing, clinical management and impact assessment, and expressed readiness to provide support in these areas, as well as on vaccine risk communication to counter hesitation.”

The UN agency said Chinese scientists had been invited to participate more closely in WHO-led COVID-19 expert networks and asked them to present detailed data at a virus evolution advisory group on Tuesday.

In the wake of widespread protests against the lockdown, Chinese authorities announced they had abandoned strict measures to contain the virus, including opening it to international visitors and lifting limits on Chinese people traveling abroad. Including the United States, South Korea, India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan have imposed COVID testing requirements for travelers from China.

The new wave of cases comes almost exactly three years after the first infections with the coronavirus were registered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Since then, more than 650 million confirmed COVID cases and more than 6.6 million deaths have been reported, although the UN health organization acknowledges that this will be a huge undercount.

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