WHO working with China on the risk of COVID during the Lunar New Year According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An employee walks next to bodies in body bags at a funeral home, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Shanghai, China, January 4, 2023 REUTERS/Employees

By Jennifer Rigby and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization says it is working with China to manage risks posed by COVID-19 rising again as people travel for the Lunar New Year but the country’s response continues to be challenged due to lack of data.

COVID-19 is spreading unchecked in China after the country lifted its COVID-free policy in December, but the WHO says it still doesn’t have enough information from China to fully assess the danger. danger of an outbreak.

It is also an issue during cooperation with China on how to reduce risks when traveling before the Lunar New Year holiday, which officially takes place on January 21, the WHO said. The holiday known before the pandemic was the largest annual migration of people in the world.

“We have been working with our Chinese colleagues,” said Abdi Rahman Mahamud, director of WHO’s alert and response coordination division, who said the country also has several strategies in place for people traveling from the region. high-risk areas to low-risk areas. like around testing and clinics.

“But for a better understanding, we need that data,” he added.

The WHO also said China is still underreporting COVID-19 deaths, although it is currently providing more information on the outbreak.

“There are some very important information gaps that we are working with China to fill,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead.

China says it has been transparent with its COVID-19 data.

The country’s National Health Commission said Chinese officials exchanged views with the WHO earlier on Wednesday during a video conference on issues including the current epidemic situation, medical treatment , vaccinations and other technical issues.


WHO also said it will soon publish a risk assessment for the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant that is increasing COVID cases in the United States.

Emergencies Director Mike Ryan praised the US for the “radical transparency” of data on the spread of the variant.

He said that is one reason why WHO does not endorse measures to monitor travelers coming from the United States, while the organization describes similar steps “understandable” that some countries have taken. for travelers from China, including COVID-19 testing and wastewater monitoring.

“I really don’t think you can compare these two situations,” he said.

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