The head of the World Health Organization said the agency is “very concerned” about rising reports of severe coronavirus disease across China.

Iran PressEurope: Beijing faces a surge in severe COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks, a respiratory expert said, amid global concerns over possible mutations and knock-on effects for the world economy after the surprise ditching of China's tough virus policies.

Following widespread protests, the country of 1.4 billion people this month began dismantling its "zero-COVID" regime of lockdowns and testing that had largely kept the virus away for three years, at great economic and psychological costs.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the U.N. agency needs more information on COVID-19 severity in China, particularly regarding hospital and intensive care unit admissions, “in order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground.”

“WHO is very concerned over the evolving situation in China with increasing reports of severe disease,” Tedros said. He added that while COVID deaths have dropped more than 90% since their global peak, there were still too many uncertainties about the virus to conclude that the pandemic is over. 219