World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to rethink its so-called zero-Covid strategy, saying the approach no longer makes sense as the omicron variant spreads through populations and the country’s economy suffers.

“We don’t think that it is sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Tedros said in a briefing on Tuesday, adding that a “shift would be very important.”

Tedros’s comments mark a rare instance of the WHO chief challenging a member state’s domestic Covid policies. Early in the pandemic, he faced criticism that he was too deferential to China, where the virus first emerged.

President Xi Jinping has clung to China’s tough Covid strategy, tightening pandemic restrictions in Shanghai and expanding a mass testing sweep in Beijing. Officials are chasing the elusive goal of wiping out Covid-19 cases in the community despite a growing cost to the economy and as much of the rest of the world opens up.

The WHO’s health emergencies program director, Michael Ryan, said measures to combat Covid-19 should take individual and human rights into consideration, as well as the impact they have on the economy.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.