China says no cases of omicron-subvariant XBB.1.5 detected so far

Beijing, Jan 14 (EFE).- China has so far not detected any locally transmitted cases of the XBB.1.5 sub-variant of the omicron strain of the coronavirus, a virology expert of the country’s disease prevention authority said.

Since October. 16 locally transmitted cases of the XBB variants have been reported in China, Chen Cao, a researcher with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in comments published by state news agency Xinhua on Saturday.

Chen said that XBB.1.5 had high transmissibility as well as a strong capability to evade immunity and was being monitored across the world, with cases being reported in at least 40 countries and regions so far.

Between Dec. 1, 2022 and Jan. 10, 2023, China registered a total of 19 omicron substrains in the country, with the BA.5.2 and BF.7 subvariants being the dominant ones, Chen said.

The rapid spread of Covid in China in recent weeks has raised doubts on the reliability of official data, which has only reported a handful of deaths by the disease despite images of hospitals facing high patient load being shared by the media.

The World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that China was not releasing accurate Covid death figures during the current outbreak, which in turn hampers the process of finding out the correct scale of the disease at the global level.

Beijing has repeatedly insisted that its data was open and transparent and said the international community should not “politicize the pandemic,” after restrictions were imposed on Chinese travelers in several countries, making it mandatory for them to present negative Covid test results.

China has also demanded transparency from the United States and urged it to share “information and data” related to XBB.1.5 transmission, which accounts for around 40 percent of Covid cases in the country.

As per a study model by the Peking University, around 900 million people have been infected in China since authorities lifted the “zero-Covid” policy and eased pandemic-related restrictions.

However, other Chinese experts believe that the peak of the ongoing coronavirus wave in the country will extend until February or March, an assessment shared by Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist of the Chinese CDC. EFE


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