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China labels WHO comments regarding 'zero-COVID' strategy 'irresponsible'


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China defended its strict “zero-COVID” approach on Wednesday, labeling comments from the World Health Organization (WHO) “irresponsible.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the country hopes “relevant people” can view China’s policy of epidemic prevention and control “objectively and rationally,” and refrain from making “irresponsible remarks.”

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“The Chinese government’s policy of epidemic prevention and control can stand the test of history, and our prevention and control measures are scientific and effective,” he told reporters. “China is one of the most successful countries in epidemic prevention and control in the world, which is obvious to all of the international community.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said he was discussing the need for a different approach with Chinese experts. 

“When we talk about the ‘zero-COVID,’ we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Tedros said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), removes his protective face mask prior to speaking to the media at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec. 20, 2021.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), removes his protective face mask prior to speaking to the media at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec. 20, 2021.
(Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File)

Mike Ryan, the agency’s emergencies chief, said all pandemic control actions should “show due respect to individual and human rights.”

China’s COVID-19 response in its largest city came under international scrutiny this year as millions were confined to their homes – some without food and critical medicine. 

In Shanghai, more than 2 million remain restricted, while authorities had loosened some for most of the other 23 million residents.

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On Tuesday, in a reversal, subway service was suspended and some were ordered to stay in their homes again for a “quiet period” after being let out for limited shopping.

The number of new cases there on Wednesday fell to less than 1,500, and seven more coronavirus-related deaths were reported. 

The city is setting up thousands of permanent PCR COVID-19 testing stations. 

A worker takes the temperature of a resident lining up for mass COVID test on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Beijing.

A worker takes the temperature of a resident lining up for mass COVID test on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Beijing.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Meanwhile, in the Chinese capital of Beijing, residents have been ordered to undergo mass testing. 

Beijing officials have resisted sweeping lockdown measures. 

Restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and gyms are closed. 

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Access to some major tourist sites has also been curbed, with destinations operating at only partial capacity and closing indoor exhibition halls. 

The city reported 37 new cases on Wednesday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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