The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the Chinese Government to provide more “rapid, regular [and] reliable data” on COVID hospitalisations and deaths amid its latest outbreak.
It comes as the Chinese Government has said the new restrictions on travellers coming from China – imposed by several countries, including Australia – are discriminatory and politically manipulative.
According to multiple outlets, China has only recorded 22 deaths since December.
China only counts pneumonia or respiratory failure caused by COVID in its official toll. This has led the WHO to believe the true extent of the outbreak is not being accurately reported.
“We believe that the current numbers being published from China under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths,” WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan said in a press briefing.
WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that he is “concerned about the risk to life in China” amid the “surge in cases and hospitalisations”.
“With circulation in China so high and comprehensive data not forthcoming… it is understandable that some countries are taking steps they believe will protect their own citizens.”
Many countries – including the U.S., India, and England – have introduced restrictions on travellers coming from China.
Australia also now requires arrivals from China to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours before travel.
The Chinese Government has since hit back at some of these restrictions, saying they are “disproportionate and simply unacceptable”. They have threatened to take “corresponding measures… based on the principle of reciprocity”.
Will China release more data?
That is unknown. WHO has said they will “closely monitor” the situation in China, but didn’t confirm if Chinese scientists had agreed to provide more accessible information on an ongoing basis.
Chinese Government officials have continued to downplay the outbreak, maintaining that some of the responses from other countries have been excessive.