Last month, China announced it was easing lockdown restrictions and it has officially reported a small number of cases. However, it’s been estimated that the number of Covid cases in China has spiked and the nation may be dealing with its largest outbreak in history.
On Wednesday, the newspaper People Daily, a known mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, published an article speaking out against criticism of its extreme lockdown policies which triggered protests in 2022.
The newspaper said: “China and the Chinese people will surely win the final victory against the epidemic.”
China’s latest Covid case update on December 24 reported fewer than 5,000 cases in the country.
However, Bo Tao, the municipal health chief of Qingdao, a city in China with a population of ten million, has said there are “between 490,000 and 530,000” new cases just in the city.
Mr Bo’s comments first were first reported by a Communist Party news outlet before later being edited, as they contradict the official figures from the Chinese Goverment.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a statement urging China to share real-time Covid case information with the organisation.
On Tuesday, the organisation met Chinese scientists over concerns about the accuracy of China’s Covid data.
A spokeswoman said: ”WHO again asked for regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation… and data on vaccinations delivered and vaccination status, especially in vulnerable people and those over 60.”
They stressed: “The importance of monitoring, and the timely publication of data, to help China and the global community to formulate accurate risk assessments and to inform effective responses.”
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However, Mao Ning, said the Chinese Goverment was “firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the epidemic prevention and control measures for political purposes, and will take corresponding measures…according to the principle of reciprocity.”
WHO has also stated that it was “understandable” that some countries are now imposing restrictions on people travelling from China.
Spain recently became the latest country to join Italy, the United States, India, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea to impose covid testing on Chinese travellers.
The Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias, has said those arriving from China must provide a recent negative Covid test or prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid.
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In December, Reuters reported that WHO had not received recent data on China’s Covid hospitalisation since lockdowns were lifted in the country.
It’s led to some health experts questioning whether the Chinese Goverment is hiding information on the extent of its outbreak.
The British health data organisation Airfinity has reported that around 9,000 people in China may be dying each day from Covid.
The European Union will hold emergency talks next week in order to assess the “evolving situation” and the European Commission has said a large number of its member state favour imposing travel restrictions on China.
France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said: “I think we’re performing our duty in protecting French people by asking for tests.
“We’re doing it while respecting the rules of the World Health Organization and we will continue to do it.”