(Geneva) The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China occurred before the Chinese government began easing health restrictions, a World Health Organization official said on Wednesday (WHO).
China’s Ministry of Health acknowledged Wednesday that infections in Beijing are “rapidly increasing.” Last week, the government abruptly abandoned its Zero COVID-19 strategy, essentially decreeing an end to the automatic placement of people who tested positive in quarantine centers and a halt to mass screening campaigns.
“Explosion of cases in China is not due to lifting of anti-Covid-19 restrictions. The explosion of cases in China began long before the relaxation of the zero COVID-19 policy,” Michael Ryan, WHO’s head of emergency management, told reporters at WHO headquarters in Geneva. A health emergency.
According to a WHO official, the scenario that “China lifts restrictions and suddenly the epidemic is out of control” is not a good explanation.
He said “the disease spread rapidly because… control measures alone could not stop it”. The WHO official emphasized that transmissions had increased “long before any change in strategy” aimed at limiting pollution.
Mr Ryan said, “Chinese authorities have strategically decided that for themselves, a zero COVID-19 strategy is “no longer the best option”.
With the dominance of the highly infectious Omicron variant, strict restrictions such as those imposed in China when vaccination coverage is low may not provide the same benefit as in previous waves.
These types of measures used to protect health systems while waiting for improvements in vaccine coverage, but now they don’t have the same effect, Ryan said.
“Data from places like Hong Kong show that Chinese inactivated vaccines, with a third dose, work well.” But he stressed that “you need this third dose” for the vaccine to be effective.
China’s leaders are determined to push ahead with an economy that experts say is ill-equipped to deal with a wave of contagion that the country faces.
Millions of elderly people are still not fully immunized, and hospitals lack the resources to handle the massive influx of sick people.