Geneva: WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke with Minister Ma Xiaowei, director of China's National Health Commission on Saturday about the COVID-19 situation in the country and sought deeper cooperation on the origins of COVID-19 pandemic.

"Spoke with Minister Ma Xiaowei about the #COVID19 situation in #China. I appreciated the release of detailed information, which we request they continue to share. Asked for the sharing of further sequences and cooperation on understanding the virus origins," WHO chief tweeted.

The phone call came on the same day as China announced that nearly 60,000 Covid-19 deaths were reported since the country lifted its strict "Zero Covid Policy" on December 7, last year, state media outlet Global Times reported.

China's National Health Commission of China revealed a total of 59,938 COVID-19-related deaths between December 8, 2022, and January 12 this year, explaining that the spike in cases is because of relaxing the Covid policy on December 7.

On the call on Saturday, Tedros reiterated the importance of China's deeper cooperation and transparency on understanding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in carrying out the recommendations detailed in the report of the Strategic Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens.

In a statement posted on its website, WHO said Chinese officials provided information to WHO and in a press conference on a range of topics, including outpatient clinics, hospitalizations, patients requiring emergency treatment and critical care, and hospital deaths related to COVID-19 infection.

"WHO is analysing this information, which covers early December 2022 to 12 January 2023, and allows for a better understanding of the epidemiological situation and the impact of this wave in China," the UN agency said.

The WHO requested that this type of detailed information continue to be shared with them. Additionally, they noted the efforts by Chinese authorities to scale up clinical care for its population at all levels, including critical care.

"The overall epidemiology--reflecting a rapid and intense wave of disease caused by known sub-variants of Omicron with higher clinical impact on older people and those with underlying conditions--is similar to waves of infection experienced by other countries, as is the increased pressure on health services," the agency said.

While the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has earlier reported that Omicron sublineages BA.5.2 and BF.7 are circulating, WHO said it continues to ask that further sequences be shared with open-access databases for continued collaboration with technical groups working on virus evolution, clinical care, and beyond.

The UN health agency said it would continue to work with China, providing technical advice and support and analysing the situation.