The World Health Organization (WHO) today expressed “seriously concerned” about the wave of new cases of covid-19 in China, unprecedented in its scale, and asked Beijing for greater transparency in order to be able to face future pandemics.
“WHO is seriously concerned about the evolving situation in China (…). In order to carry out a complete risk assessment, WHO needs more detailed information on the severity of the disease and the numbers of admissions to hospitals and intensive care units,” said WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom. Ghebreyesus, at a press conference.
Ghebreyesus asked for greater transparency in the procedures, stressing that all hypotheses about the origin of the new coronavirus in China “are on the table”.
WHO specialists who have traveled to China in recent years have considered four hypotheses for the origin of SARS-CoV-2: the passage of the virus from animals to humans through intermediate species (the most likely, as they indicated), direct transmission from a single species, contamination by the food chain or laboratory accident.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, the director of infectious diseases at Peking University Hospital No. 1, Wang Guiqiang, quoted by the Associated Press (AP) news agency, admitted that China is only accounting for deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in the official figure. of deaths from covid-19.
For that reason, said the doctor, it is a “narrow definition” that limits the number of reported deaths, as the outbreak of the new coronavirus increases after the slowdown in cases caused by the restrictions imposed until recently by the Chinese authorities.
“Deaths that occur in patients with pre-existing illnesses are not counted as deaths from covid-19”, underlined Wang Guiquiang.
China has always been conservative in the way it counts the number of cases of different diseases, whether due to the flu or Covid-19.
In most countries, including the United States, guidelines stipulate that any death in which the new coronavirus could be a factor be counted as a COVID-19-related death.
Wang Guiquiang’s comments, made on Tuesday, end up publicly clarifying, in part, what the country has been doing during the pandemic.
Today, China recorded no new deaths from covid-19 and subtracted even one death from the total number, reducing it to 5,241, according to the daily count released by the National Health Commission, which did not offer further explanation.
The clarification of how China officially registers deaths from covid-19 comes as cases soar across the country after the end of restrictions imposed under the “covid zero” policy.
However, the overall count remains in doubt as China has stopped requiring daily PCR tests (or molecular tests) and many people are taking diagnostic tests at home.
Interestingly, many people fell ill in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the latter having been hit by an outbreak caused by the Omicron variant, considered more transmissible.
Several people told the AP that some of their elderly family members who tested positive for Covid-19 had died and were not counted in the city’s official death toll, as were patients with similar illnesses.
Last May, the WHO estimated that nearly 15 million people died from illnesses associated with covid-19 or due to overwhelmed health systems in the first two years of the pandemic.
This figure is much higher than the official death toll, more than 6.6 million, since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
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