BEIJING: After US President Joe Biden expressed concern and the WHO stated that Beijing was under-reporting virus deaths, China issued a defense on Thursday regarding the handling of its raging Covid-19 outbreak.
Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency director, said on Wednesday that Chinese officials were under-representing data on several fronts. These were some of the most critical comments the UN agency has ever made.
After protests against its strict Covid controls, China abandoned a policy that had protected its 1.4 billion people from the virus for three years.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated at a regular media briefing in Beijing that China had promptly and openly shared Covid data with the World Health Organization (WHO) and that China’s “epidemic situation is controllable.”
Mao stated, “Facts have proven that China has always maintained close communication and shared relevant information and data with the WHO in a timely manner in accordance with the principles of legality, timeliness, openness, and transparency.”
On Wednesday, China reported one more Covid death on the mainland, up from five the day before, bringing its official death toll to 5,259.
Ryan said that Beijing’s definition of Covid-related deaths was too narrow and that China’s numbers underrepresented hospital admissions, ICU patients, and deaths.
Hours later, US President Joe Biden expressed concern regarding China’s handling of a Covid outbreak that has overwhelmed some funeral homes and filled hospitals.
Biden stated to reporters, “They’re very sensitive… when we suggest they haven’t been that forthcoming.”
As China, the world’s most populous nation faces an increase in Covid cases as a result of its decision to relax strict virus restrictions, more than a dozen countries have imposed new travel restrictions on travelers from China.
Since Thursday, all Chinese travelers entering the United States must submit negative Covid tests within two days of departure.