Instagram Threads has reportedly blocked searches related to Covid and coronavirus vaccines as fresh infections rise in the US, a move that has been slammed by health experts.

Public health experts criticized the social media platform’s decision, saying that restricting access to critical health information is not a good move as the US sees a rise in daily Covid infections, reports The Washington Post.

Meta said in a statement that Threads is intentionally blocking the search terms, along with other terms.

“The search functionality temporarily doesn’t provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content,” according to the statement.

A search by The Post discovered that the words “sex”, “nude”, “gore”, “porn”, “coronavirus”, “vaccines” and “vaccination” are also among the blocked words.

Once the users type “COVID” or “COVID-19” on Threads, they see a prompt directing them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

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Public health experts slammed Threads’ move amid a steep rise in new COVID-19 infections across the country.

“Long covid patients have died of organ failure, infections, cardiac events and more, and social media is one place they can share information. Cutting off communication between suffering and disabled patients is cruel in the extreme. It’s indefensible,” Julia Doubleday, outreach director at the non-profit World Health Network, was quoted as saying.

Amid the rise of several new Covid variants, the US saw a 16 percent jump in the SARS-CoV-2 virus-related hospitalizations, according to data from the CDC last week.

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States like Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming saw more than a 30 percent increase in hospital admissions over the past week.

This has raised concerns as the spike comes after a quiet year in which hospitalizations and deaths were lying low since January.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also warned of “concerning trends” for Covid ahead of winter.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved newly formulated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that are more closely targeted to current variants of the disease.