WHO urges greater COVID-19 transparency from China

The World Health Organization says although China has not reported a new coronavirus variant, it needs to be more open about COVID-19 deaths and other data.

The WHO said on Wednesday that experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention presented data based on more than 2,000 genomes collected in China since December 1.

The Chinese analysis showed a predominance of Omicron subvariants already circulating in other countries, such as BA.5.2 and BF.7. China says no new strain was confirmed.

WHO emergencies director Dr. Mike Ryan said the UN health agency believes China's definition of a COVID-19 death is too narrow.

He said China's figures "underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of deaths."

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency is concerned about the risk to life in China and will continue to ask Beijing for more rapid, regular, reliable data.

Some European Union member states have already announced tighter entry rules for travelers from China.

The EU agreed to implement precautionary measures on Wednesday. It will urge passengers on flights from China to wear masks, and strongly recommend that member states request all travelers from China to show a negative result from a coronavirus test taken within 48 hours prior to their departure. The EU plans to reassess the COVID-19 situation and consider new measures by mid-January.