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WHO chief: China’s zero-COVID policy is ‘not sustainable’

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday (11 May) that China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable, in rare public comments by the UN agency on a sovereign government’s handling of the pandemic, reports Reuters.

“We don’t think that it is sustainable considering the behaviour of the virus and what we now anticipate in the future,” the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing, adding that increased knowledge about the virus and better tools to combat it also suggested it was time for a change of strategy.

Reuters reports that the comments come after China’s leaders have repeated their resolve to battle the virus with tough measures and threatened action against critics at home even as prolonged lockdowns exact a heavy toll on the world’s second-largest economy.

Speaking after Tedros, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the impact of a “zero-COVID” policy on human rights should also be taken into consideration.

“We have always said as WHO that we need to balance the control measures against the impact they have on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” he said, adding that China has registered 15,000 deaths since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019 – a relatively low number compared with nearly 1m in the United States, more than 664,000 in Brazil and more than 524,000 in India

However, China’s zero-COVID policy has drawn criticism ranging from scientists to its own citizens. Shanghai’s measures have been particularly strict, with residents allowed out of compounds only for exceptional reasons, such as a medical emergency. Many are not even allowed out of their front doors to mingle with neighbours.

Its quarantine policy has also been criticised for separating children from parents and putting asymptomatic cases among those with symptoms.


Reuters article – WHO chief says China’s zero-COVID policy not ‘sustainable’ (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Omicron spike puts China’s ‘zero-COVID’ policies under pressure


China’s bid for Zero Covid: Economic pain, rights abuses and data manipulation


China: Millions in lockdown as new cases hit two-year high, testing its ‘zero COVID’ resolve


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