WHO faults China’s zero approach, says no match for omicron variant


The World Health Organization has repeated its assertion that China’s zero-Covid strategy is “not sustainable” but added that every country must decide what policy to pursue.

At a media briefing on Tuesday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant required a different approach

The WHO boss added that the coronavirus has changed significantly since it was first identified, stressing that every country must decide its own policies to tackle the pandemic.

“We know the virus better and we have better tools, including vaccines, so that’s why the handling of the virus should actually be different from what we used to do at the start of the pandemic,” Tedros said. He added that the virus had changed significantly since it was first identified in Wuhan in late 2019, when China largely stopped its spread with lockdowns.

Tedros said the WHO had repeatedly advised Chinese officials about their recommended COVID containment strategies, but that “regarding their choice of policies, it is up to every country to make that choice.”

The ruthless and often chaotic implementation of zero-COVID in China has stirred considerable resentment and food shortages in Shanghai, where some residents have been under lockdown for six weeks.

WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said the agency recognized that China had faced a difficult situation with COVID-19 recently and commended authorities for keeping the number of deaths to a very low level.

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