China’s COVID spike is not due to restrictions being lifted, WHO director says

China's COVID spike is not due to restrictions being lifted, WHO director says
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  • WHO says China’s control measures haven’t stopped COVID-19
  • Countries should ask if the right people are adequately vaccinated
  • China-WHO Open Channels – Ryan

GENEVA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – COVID-19 infections exploded in China well before the government’s decision to abandon its strict “zero-COVID” policy, a World Health Organization director said on Wednesday, dismissing suggestions that the sudden Reversal has caused an increase in cases.

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

At a briefing with the media, he said the virus had spread “intensely” across the nation long before it did To lift of restrictions.

“Right now, there is a narrative that China lifted the restrictions and suddenly the disease got out of control,” he said.

“The disease spread intensively because I believe that the control measures themselves could not stop the disease. And I think China has made a strategic decision that this is no longer the best option.”

Beijing began backing away from its signature “zero-COVID” policy this month after protests against the economically damaging curbs championed by President Xi Jinping.

The sudden easing of restrictions has sparked long queues outside fever clinics, a worrying sign a wave of infections is building, although official numbers of new cases have been falling lately as authorities rolled back testing.

In its latest COVID report for the week ended 11 February 27, the WHO said China had reported increasing hospital admissions for four consecutive weeks.

“So the challenge that China and other countries still face is: Are the people who need to be vaccinated adequately vaccinated, with the right vaccines and the right number of doses, and when was the last time these people had the vaccines? said Ryan.


Enthusiasm in China, which has responded to policy changes that allowed people to live with the virus, has quickly faded amid rising concerns about rising infections as the population lacks “herd immunity” and vaccination rates among the elderly people are low.

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

China Meheco Group Co Ltd is among the first major deals to be announced, with a Western drugmaker set to supply China with COVID therapies (600056.SS) said on Wednesday it would import and distribute Pfizer’s (PFE.N) oral COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid.

At the start of the briefing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “hopeful“that the pandemic, which has claimed more than 6.6 million lives since it erupted in Wuhan, China three years ago, will no longer be considered a global emergency sometime next year.

Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; writing from Josephine Mason in London; Edited by Alison Williams, Raissa Kasolowsky, Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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