The head of the World Health Organization says China’s extreme approach to containing the coronavirus is unsustainable because of the highly infectious nature of the omicron variant, but it is up to each country to decide which policy to pursue.
At a press conference on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described China’s “zero-Covid” strategy as “unsustainable” after similar remarks last week were criticized by China. harshly quoted.
“We know better about the virus and we have better tools, including a vaccine, so that’s why dealing with the virus has to be really different from what we do,” said Tedros. did at the beginning of the pandemic. He added that the virus has changed dramatically since it was first identified in Wuhan in late 2019, when China largely contained its spread with lockdowns.
Tedros said the WHO has repeatedly advised Chinese officials on their recommended Covid containment strategies, but that “regarding their policy choices, it is up to each country to make those decisions.” that choice”.
The ruthless and often chaotic implementation of zero-Covid in China has caused discontent and significant food shortages in Shanghai, where some residents have been locked up for more than a month.
WHO emergencies director Dr Michael Ryan said the agency recognized that China had faced a difficult situation with Covid-19 recently and commended the authorities for keeping the number deaths are very low.
“We understand why China’s initial response to trying to contain the infection to the maximum extent (but) that strategy is unsustainable and other elements of the strategic response need to be amplified,” he said. grand. Ryan added that vaccination efforts need to be continued, and stressed that “an adoption-only strategy is not a sustainable way out of a pandemic for any one country.”
WHO head Tedros also said the agency is trying to convince North Korea and Eritrea to start getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
“WHO is deeply concerned about the risk of further spread in (North Korea) and notes that the population is unvaccinated and has a worrying number of people with underlying medical conditions that predispose them to infection,” said Tedros. risk of serious illness.
Tedros said the WHO has asked North Korea to share more data about the outbreak there – which state media has reported is affecting more than 1 million people – but has so far received no response. He said the WHO has offered to send both North Korea and Eritrea vaccines, medicines, tests and technical assistance, but neither country’s leaders have responded.
Ryan said any unchecked transmission in countries like North Korea and Eritrea could spur the emergence of new variants, but WHO will be powerless to act unless countries accept it. get their help.