WHO chief says we are 'increasingly blind' on COVID transmission

GENEVA/LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - The head of the World Health Organization on Tuesday urged countries to maintain surveillance of coronavirus infections, saying the world was "blind" to how the virus is spreading because of falling testing rates.

"As many countries reduce testing, WHO is receiving less and less information about transmission and sequencing," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference at the U.N. agency's headquarters in Geneva.

People line up outside a makeshift nucleic acid testing site during a mass testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Haidian district of Beijing, China April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"This makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution."

Bill Rodriguez, chief executive of FIND, a global aid group working with WHO on expanding access to testing, said "testing rates have plummeted by 70 to 90%."

"We have an unprecedented ability to know what is happening. And yet today, because testing has been the first casualty of a global decision to let down our guard, we are becoming blind to what is happening with this virus," he said.

Reporting by Emma Farge and Jennifer Rigby; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

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