Earlier today, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke to the director of China’s National Health Commission, Minister Ma Xiaowei.
The WHO confirmed in a media statement on January 14, 2023; it appreciates this telephonic meeting and the public release of information about the pandemic in the country.
Chinese officials provided information to WHO and in a press conference on various topics, including outpatient clinics, hospitalizations, patients requiring emergency treatment and critical care, and hospital deaths related to COVID-19 infection.
WHO is analyzing this information, which covers early December 2022 to January 12, 2023, and allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation and the impact of this wave in China.
The overall epidemiology—reflecting a rapid and intense wave of disease caused by known sub-variants of Omicron with higher clinical impact on older people and those with underlying conditions—is similar to waves of infection experienced by other countries, as is the increased pressure on health services.
Nevertheless, the reported data indicate a decline in case numbers, hospitalizations, and those requiring critical care.
The WHO has requested a more detailed breakdown of data by province over time.
While the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has earlier reported that Omicron sublineages BA.5.2 and BF.7 are currently circulating, WHO continues to ask that other sequences be shared with open access databases such as GISAID for deeper phylogenetic analyses and continued collaboration with technical groups working on virus evolution, clinical care, and beyond.
The WHO stated it would continue to work with China, providing technical advice and support and analyzing the situation.
Note: The unedited, complete media statement is available at this WHO link.