WHO working with China on Lunar New Year COVID-19 risks lacks data

COVID-19 testing
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China is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to manage the risks of COVID-19 surging again as people travel for Lunar New Year celebrations, but the response continues to be challenged by a lack of data, says the agency.

COVID-19 is spreading unchecked in China after the country lifted its zero-COVID policy in December, but the WHO says it still does not have enough information from China to make a full assessment of the dangers of the surge. That is also an issue in working with China on how to mitigate the risks of travel ahead of the Lunar New Year public holiday, says the WHO.

The holiday was known pre-pandemic as the world’s largest annual migration of people.

Director of the WHO’s alert & Response Coordination Department, Abdi Rahman Mahamud says “We’ve been working with our China colleagues.”

The WHO adds that the country has a number of strategies around people travelling from high-risk to low-risk areas as well as around testing and clinics.

“But to understand better we require that data.”.

It says China is still heavily under reporting deaths from COVID-19, although it is now providing more information on its outbreak.

COVID-19 technical lead, MariaVan Kerkhove says, “There are some very important information gaps that we are working with China to fill.”

China has rejected international scepticism of its statistics as politically motivated attempts to smear its achievements in fighting the virus.