Chinese media downplays severity of COVID as WHO seeks details on options

Chinese media downplays severity of COVID as WHO seeks details on options
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  • State media reports that severe illness from COVID is rare
  • Chinese scientists are expected to report to the WHO
  • Chinese factory activity declines in December

BEIJING/HONG KONG/GENEVA, Jan 3 (Reuters) – State media in China downplayed the severity of the surge in COVID-19 infections ahead of an expected briefing by scientists to the World Health Organization on Tuesday. “detailed discussion” of virus evolution.

China’s sharp turnaround in controlling COVID in December. 7, as well as the accuracy of his case and death records, are increasingly being scrutinized at home and abroad.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that travel restrictions imposed by some countries “it’s just not reasonableSaying that it “has no scientific basis”.

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

“However … we strongly oppose attempts to manipulate epidemic prevention and control measures for political purposes, and will take appropriate measures in different situations in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

The World Health Organization has urged Chinese health workers to regularly stop share private and real-time information in an epidemic. The global body invited Chinese scientists to present detailed information on the viral sequence at a technical advisory group meeting on Tuesday. It also asked China to share data on hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.

China’s move away from the “zero-Covid” policy championed by President Xi Jinping comes after protests that marked the strongest show of public defiance in 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 a surge in demand for services, and international health experts predict at least one million people will die in China this year.

China reported three new COVID deaths on Monday, bringing the official death toll since the pandemic began to 5,253.

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

“Severe and critical illnesses currently account for 3% to 4% of infected patients admitted to designated hospitals in Beijing,” Tong Zhaohui, vice president of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, told the newspaper.

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

The emergency area of ​​Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai was packed with patients on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said.

Some were on beds in the corridor receiving IV treatment, while dozens of people lined up around them, waiting to see a doctor. It was not clear how much COVID was there.


Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, a WHO spokeswoman said a “detailed discussion” was expected on the options spread in China and globally, with Chinese scientists making a presentation.

The two leading scientists and committee members who met on Tuesday said they would be together.more realistic picture“The situation in China.

But some experts doubted that Beijing would be too open.

“I don’t think China will be very forthcoming about releasing 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’ll say nothing happened, nothing new. I think we can assume there’s nothing new… but the problem is that China’s transparency problem is always there.”

The US, France, Italy and others will require travelers from China to undergo COVID tests, while Belgium has said it will test waste water from planes for new variants.

European Union health officials will meet on Wednesday to coordinate a response.

China will stop requiring travelers arriving in the country to enter quarantine starting in January. 8. But it will still require a test before departure.


As Chinese workers and shoppers fall ill, worries about the near-term outlook for the world’s second-largest economy are growing, fueling volatility. global financial markets.

There is the European Union offered free of charge COVID-19 vaccine to China, as concerns grow over rising infections.

Beijing has not yet responded to the offer, an EU spokesman said, following Germany’s shipment of 11,500 BioNTech last month. (22UAy.DE) COVID shots to China for use by German citizens.

China has so far insisted on using only Chinese-made vaccines that appear to be less effective than Western vaccines based on mRNA technology.

A survey released on Tuesday showed that China factory activity decreased last month.

December delivery from Foxconn’s (2317.TW) The Zhengzhou iPhone factory has been disrupted by worker walkouts and unrest during the COVID outbreak. was 90% of the firm’s original plans.

forest fireThe head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, said that the number of infections in China in the coming months will hurt its economy this year and drag down global growth.

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

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said 52.71 million domestic trips during the New Year holiday brought in 26.52 billion yuan ($3.84 billion), up 4% year-on-year, but only 35 percent of the year before the pandemic in 2019.

Expectations are higher for the big Lunar New Year holiday later this month, when some experts predict infections will peak in many places.

Report by Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Additional reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong and Emma Farge in Geneva; Written by Marius Zaharia and Sumeet Chatterjee; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel, Simon Cameron-Moore, and Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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