Many countries are imposing restrictions on travelers from China due to a wave of infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it needs more information to assess China’s latest wave of COVID-19 infections, but called the global concern and increase in travel restrictions “understandable”.
“In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways they believe can protect their populations,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter late Thursday.
He urged China to provide more information on the state of the pandemic.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) December 29, 2022
On Friday, senior Chinese health officials held a videoconference with WHO officials, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement. They discussed the current situation, medical treatment, vaccination and other technical matters.
The United States joined several other countries in demanding negative COVID-19 tests from travelers from China after Beijing announced it would end mandatory quarantine on arrival, prompting many Chinese to make plans to travel abroad.
“We remain concerned about the changing situation and we continue to encourage China to trace the COVID-19 virus and vaccinate those at highest risk,” Ghebreyesus wrote.
“We continue to support clinical care and protection [China’s] health system.”
The global coronavirus death toll stands at nearly 6.7 million since the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan.
China insists it has been transparent with its information, despite the health commission’s announcement that it would no longer release an official daily COVID-19 death toll.
“China has always published information on COVID-19 deaths and serious cases in the spirit of openness and transparency,” committee official Jiao Yahui said Thursday.
At a press conference held by China’s State Council, it was announced that there were about 5,500 new local cases and one death on Friday — but with the end of mass testing and the narrowing of the criteria for what counts as a COVID fatality, those numbers are no longer supposed to represent reality.
Some experts estimate that as many as 9,000 people die every day.
The discrepancy is explained by the fact that China only counts COVID-19 deaths as cases of people who died of respiratory failure caused by the virus after testing positive with a nucleic acid test, rather than counting all deaths within 28 days of testing positive. take. Jiao said.
“China has always committed to the scientific criteria for assessing COVID-19 deaths, from beginning to end, that are in line with international criteria,” Jiao said.
The European Union health agency said restrictions on travelers from China were not justified as a uniform bloc-wide policy across the 27 member states – at least for now.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it considered “screening and travel measures of travelers from China unjustified”.
The Omicron BF.7 variant sweeping through China is already widespread in the EU and the associated risk has not increased, the ECDC said in a statement.