The World Health Organization (WHO) criticized the new definition on Wednesday 4 January “too narrow” of a death attributed to COVID-19 from China, claiming that data from Beijing “underrepresent” the extent of the epidemic.
WHO has also reiterated its support for Covid testing of travelers from China. The same story was heard on Wednesday evening in Brussels, where EU member states reached an agreement that the 27 are “strongly encouraged” requiring all travelers from China to present a negative Covid test dated less than 48 hours before departure.
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“Current figures released by China underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, ICU admissions and especially in terms of deaths,” said Michael Ryan, manager of health emergencies management at theWHOat the press conference.
China is facing its worst surge of cases – largely due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus – following the abrupt abandonment in early December of its so-called “zero Covid” policy. But the country reports very few deaths related to Covid-19, after a controversial change in methodology: now only people who died directly from respiratory failure related to Covid are counted in the statistics. This definition is too narrow. insisted Michael Ryan.
“We continue to ask China for faster, more regular and more reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more complete and real-time sequencing of the virus,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Saying its organization “worried” from the situation in China, reiterated the importance of vaccination.
Support for screening measures
WHO has also reiterated its support for the screening measures recently requested by some countries (especially European ones, with France, Italy and Spain) for travelers from China.
In the evening, the member states of theEuropean Unionalso concerned about Chinese opacity, they therefore reached an agreement aimed at coordinating their response to the situation in China, to which Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland joined.
In addition to the call to test travelers embarking in China, Europeans are “encouraged” to complete this test with “random tests” upon arrival in Europe, with “a sequence of positive results” identify possible new variants.
Analysis of wastewater from international airports
The Twenty-seven are also encouraged to do so “test the waste water of airports hosting international flights and that of planes arriving from China”, with genomic sequencing.
While Member States remain free to implement recommendations adopted at EU level, “everyone understands that if we don’t act together, there will be holes in the system”, we reported to the European Commission.
In the process, Belgium decided on Wednesday evening to impose a negative Covid test at boarding for passengers on direct flights connecting China to its territory. The country was already analyzing wastewater from the two weekly planes landing in Brussels from China.