Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that China is “under-representing the true impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, especially the exact number of deaths.
In a statement on Wednesday, Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said: “We believe that definition (of a Covid death) is too narrow,” the BBC reported.
China’s figures “under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths”, he added.
Amidst the ongoing outbreak, China has stopped publishing the single-day tallies for Covid-19 cases and deaths.
In December 2022, the country changed the criteria for what constitutes a Covid death, meaning only those who die of respiratory illnesses are counted.
In his statement, Ryan added that China had increased its engagement with the WHO in recent weeks, and said he looked forward to receiving “more comprehensive data”, reports the BBC.
But he also suggested individual healthworkers could report their own data and experiences.
“We do not discourage doctors and nurses reporting these deaths and these cases. We have an open approach to be able to record the actual impact of disease in society,” the top WHO official was quoted as saying.
The UK science data company Airfinity estimates more than two million Covid cases a day in China, and some 14,700 deaths.
Since China lifted key parts of its “zero-Covid” strategy almost a month ago, there have been reports of hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed.
More than a dozen nations, including India, have introduced travel restrictions on travellers from China — a move criticised by Beijing as being politically motivated and threatened to retaliate.
No new Covid variants have been detected in China, despite the surge in cases.
However, the WHO has warned this could be due to a decrease in testing. (Agencies)