(Reuters) – The World Health Organization received data from China on new COVID-19 hospitalisations after a reporting gap, with figures on Thursday showing a nearly 50% increase in the week to Jan. 1.
The U.N. health agency received no data from China in the weeks after Beijing lifted its zero-COVID policy in early December, prompting some health experts to question whether it might be hiding information on the extent of its outbreak.
The WHO’s latest report showed 22,416 new hospitalisations for mainland China in the week to Jan. 1 versus 15,161 the previous week. This was still below the all-time peak of nearly 29,000 admissions in early December
Over the same week, the report showed China had 218,019 new cases and 648 new deaths, although these figures typically include Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau as well as mainland China. During the same period, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported nine deaths.
The WHO did not release a report last week due to end of year holidays.
On Wednesday, WHO officials gave their clearest criticism yet of China’s recent handling of the pandemic, saying COVID-19 data is not giving an accurate picture of the situation and under-represents the number of hospitalisations and deaths.
The body is preparing to meet Chinese scientists on Thursday as part of a wider briefing among member states on the global COVID-19 situation as concerns grow about the rapid spread of the virus in the world’s No. 2 economy.