March 25, 2023

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WHO warns that hospitals in China are overflowing with infectious diseases

Official figures show no one died of Covid on Wednesday – but there is skepticism about the data.

22 Dec
– 07:18

(Updated at 08:44)

China recorded five coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday as cases of COVID-19 spread across the country.

Photo: EPA / BBC News Brazil

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that hospitals in China appear to be overcrowded amid concerns a new wave of Covid-19 could hit the country.

Michael Ryan, the WHO’s head of emergencies, said intensive care units (ICU) were full, although officials said the numbers were “relatively low”.

Official data showed that no one had died from Covid-19 on Wednesday (21/12), but doubts remain about the true impact of the disease.

In recent days, hospitals in Beijing and other cities are overflowing as a new wave of Covid hits the country.

Since 2020, China has imposed strict restrictions as part of its “Covid Zero” policy.

But the government scrapped most of those measures two weeks ago after historic protests against tougher restrictions.

Since then, the number of cases has risen, raising fears of a higher death rate, especially among vulnerable elderly people.

Despite the increase, official figures show that only two people died from Covid on Tuesday (20/12), and Monday (19).

It prompted WHO emergency chief Michael Ryan to urge China to provide more information about the new wave of virus transmission.

“In China, (officially) a relatively small number of cases have been reported in ICUs, but the ICUs are filling up,” he said.

“We’ve been saying this for weeks now, and this highly contagious virus will always be very difficult to completely stop with public health and social measures alone.”

At his weekly press conference in Geneva, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very concerned about the situation developing in China”.

He asked for specific data on severity of illness, hospitalizations and need for intensive care.

Ryan added that “vaccine is the only escape strategy” from the coronavirus outbreak.

China has developed and produced its own vaccines, which have proven to be less effective at protecting people from serious illness and death from Covid than the mRNA vaccines used in other parts of the world.

His comments came as the German government announced on Wednesday that it had shipped its first batch of BioEntech Covid-19 vaccines to China.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (left) has insisted that German biotech vaccines should be made available to Chinese citizens

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (left) has insisted that German biotech vaccines should be made available to Chinese citizens

Photo: EPA / BBC News Brazil

The German vaccines were initially to be administered to foreigners in China – estimated to be around 20,000.

This is the first overseas Covid-19 vaccine to be delivered to China, although details on when it will arrive or the size of the shipment have not been released.

Last month, during a visit to Beijing, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pushed for free vaccinations for Chinese citizens.

– This text has been published

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