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China succumbs to pressure, shares Covid situation with WHO

By KJM Varma
December 30, 2022 23:10 IST
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China's health officials on Friday discussed with the World Health Organisation experts on the current massive surge of the COVID virus in the country after the organisation's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked Beijing to share more information and defended the decision of countries like India to screen travellers from the pandemic affected country.

IMAGE: Travellers walk with their luggage at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport amid a wave of the COVID-19 infections, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China December 30, 2022. Photograph: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

The Chinese officials and World Health Organisation experts exchanged views on the current COVID-19 situation, treatment, and vaccinations, China's National Health Commission said in a statement after the online meeting.

They agreed to continue technical exchanges to help end the epidemic worldwide as soon as possible, it said.


Millions of Chinese were infected in the current surge of Omicron variants in China, causing alarm over the world.

Earlier on Thursday, Tedros tweeted: "As I said at our most recent press conference -- in order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the #COVID19 situation on the ground in #China, @WHO needs more detailed information."

The WHO chief also defended various countries, including India, to take protective measures against people arriving from China to prevent the virus from spreading.

"In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations," he said.

"We remain concerned about the evolving situation and we continue encouraging China to track the Covid-19 virus and vaccinate the highest-risk people. We continue to offer our support for clinical care and protecting its health system," he said.

"We continue to call on China to share data and all hypotheses about this pandemic remain on the table," Tadros said, referring to the origin of the coronavirus which was first reported in Wuhan city of China in late 2019.

Tedros' remarks come against the backdrop of China criticising the countermeasures taken by various countries including the US, Japan and India requiring travellers from China to undergo the required tests.

Beijing's decision to lift all travel restrictions, including scrapping of quarantine for inbound travellers from January 8 ahead of Chinese New Year, has caused alarm around the world.

Millions of Chinese are expected to travel to various parts of the world for holiday during this period.

Asked about Tedros comments saying that the protective measures taken by various countries are understandable, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told media in Beijing on Friday that for all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportionate without affecting normal travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation.

Over the past few days, authoritative medical experts from different countries have said that entry restrictions on travellers arriving from China are unnecessary.

"We need to underscore that since the start of COVID-19, China has been sharing relevant information and data in an open and transparent manner with the international community, including the WHO," he said.

China shared the genome sequence of the virus at the earliest opportunity, making important contributions to drug and vaccine research and development in countries around the world, he said.

"China's relevant departments have shared the genome data of the virus from the latest COVID cases in China via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data. The departments will continue to closely monitor whether the virus would mutate, share information on COVID in a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with the law, and work with the international community to address the COVID challenge", he said.

Chinese official media criticised the screening of travellers from China.

"A small number of countries and regions, such as the US and Japan see China's reopening as another chance to defame Beijing," a report in the state-run Global Times said.

"They have imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, citing what experts called 'unfounded' and 'discriminatory' measures to defend their moves, but the real intention is to sabotage China's three years of COVID-19 control efforts and attack the country's system," it said.

A negative Covid report will be a must for passengers arriving in India from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand from January 1, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.

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KJM Varma in Beijing
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