Chinese media has downplayed the severity of Covid as WHO wants to know the details of the variant

Chinese media has downplayed the severity of Covid as WHO wants to know the details of the variant
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  • State media say serious illness from Covid is rare
  • Chinese scientists brief WHO
  • Chinese factory activity contracted in December

BEIJING/HONG KONG/GENEVA, Jan 3 (Reuters) – China’s state media played down the severity of the surge in COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, while its scientists briefed the World Health Organization, which is seeking detailed information on the evolution of the virus.

The global body invited scientists to present details of viral sequencing at a technical advisory group meeting on Tuesday and asked China to share data on hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.

The WHO will be in touch later, possibly at a news briefing on Wednesday, its spokesman said after the meeting. The spokesperson previously said the company expected a “detailed discussion” about the variants being rolled out in China and globally.

China’s sudden U-turn on Covid control on December 7, as well as the accuracy of its case and death data, has come under increasing scrutiny at home and abroad.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called travel and entry bans imposed by some countries “Just absurd“, calling them “lacking scientific basis”.

“We are willing to improve communication with the world,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.

“But … we strongly oppose efforts to exploit the epidemic prevention and control system for political purposes.”

The WHO has urged Chinese health officials to regularize Share specific and real-time information on the outbreak

A White House National Security Council official would not comment on Tuesday’s meeting, but echoed the WHO’s call for more information.

“Public health experts and officials, including from the United States, have made it clear that it is important for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to share more adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data,” the official said. “This is in the interest of the PRC and the international community and is important to identify any potential variants.”

China’s move away from a “zero-Covid” policy championed by President Xi Jinping represented the strongest show of public defiance during his decade in power and coincided with the economy’s slowest growth in nearly half a century.

As the virus spreads unchecked, funeral homes have reported increased demand for their services, and international health experts predict at least one million deaths in China this year.

China reported three new Covid deaths for Monday, bringing its official death toll to 5,253 since the pandemic began.

‘relatively light’

On Tuesday, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, quoted Chinese experts as saying that illness caused by the virus was relatively mild for most people.

“Currently 3% to 4% of infected patients admitted to designated hospitals in Beijing are responsible for severe and critical illness,” Tong Zhaohui, vice president of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, told the newspaper.

Kang Yan, head of Sichuan University’s West China Tianfu Hospital, said 46 patients had been admitted to the intensive care unit in the past three weeks, representing about 1% of symptomatic infections.

The two leading scientists and WHO committee members said before their meeting that they were a “More realistic pictures“About the situation in China. They didn’t comment after it was over.

But some experts doubted Beijing would be too forthright.

“I don’t think China will be very forthcoming with information,” said Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

“They’d rather keep it to themselves or they’d say nothing happened, nothing new. My own view is that we can assume there’s nothing new… but the problem is that China always has transparency issues.”

The United States, France, Italy and others have said they will require travelers from China to be tested for Covid. European Union health officials will meet on Wednesday on a coordinated response.

“As we have said, the United States has offered vaccines and other COVID-19 assistance to China. China has publicly indicated that it appreciates the offer but does not require support. We stand by our offer,” a White House spokesman said. . National Security Council Dr.

China will stop requiring domestic travelers to go into quarantine starting January 8. But it will still demand a pre-departure test.

‘Dangerous Week’

As Chinese workers and shoppers fall ill, concerns over the near-term outlook for the world’s second-largest economy rise, fueling volatility. Global financial markets.

A survey published on Tuesday showed that China factory activity has contracted in the last month.

a”Bushfire“The contagion in China in the coming months could hurt its economy this year and dampen global growth,” International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said.

“China is entering the most dangerous week of the pandemic,” Capital Economics analysts warned.

There is the European Union is given free of charge COVID vaccine in China as concerns grow over rising infections. An EU spokesman said Beijing had not yet responded to the proposal.

China has so far insisted on using only Chinese-made vaccines, which are based on mRNA technology and are seen as less effective than Western ones.

(This story has been amended to remove extraneous words in paragraph 9)

Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Additional reporting by Trevor Honeycutt and Steve Holland in Washington, Farah Master in Hong Kong, Emma Ferg in Geneva and Jennifer Rigby in London; Written by Marius Zaharia and Sumit Chatterjee; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel, Simon Cameron-Moore and Thomas Janowski

Our values: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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