China ends 2021 with the worst COVID week since taming the original epidemic – archyde

  • Mainland China reported 1,151 new local symptomatic cases in the past week
  • Recent outbreak due to infection in Xian City

BEIJING, Jan 1 (Reuters) – China ended its final week of 2021 with the highest number of local coronavirus cases in seven days since containing the country’s first epidemic nearly two years ago, despite an arsenal of some of the toughest COVID Cases of the world -19 measures.

The National Health Commission on Saturday reported 175 new infections in the community with confirmed clinical symptoms as of December 31, bringing the total number of local symptomatic cases in mainland China to 1,151 over the past week.

The surge was mainly driven by an eruption in the northwest industrial and technology center of Xian, a city of 13 million people.

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The deepening outbreak in Xian is likely to cement authorities’ determination to curb transmissions quickly as and when cases emerge. The city, which was closed for 10 days on Saturday, has reported 1,451 local symptomatic cases since Dec. 9, the highest number for a Chinese city in 2021.

While China’s case numbers are tiny compared to many outbreaks elsewhere in the world, preventing larger outbreaks will be important in 2022. Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in February, and the ruling Communist Party will hold a five-year congress, expected in the fall, at which President Xi Jinping is likely to receive a third term as party secretary.

The advent of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron will also lead Beijing to maintain its high level of vigilance against the virus. China has reported a handful of imported Omicron cases and at least one locally transmitted case.

Since August, China has tried to get each outbreak under control in about two weeks, much shorter than the four to six weeks in previous battles against sporadic flare-ups following the first nationwide epidemic, according to the National Health Commission.

Cities along China’s borders are at higher risk for the virus, either due to the existence of overland transport links or the entry of infected travelers from other countries. Some have been hit by delta outbreaks that resulted in harsh travel restrictions last year.

Yunnan, which borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, reported new local symptomatic cases 92 out of 365 days, or 25% of the time, more often than any other province, autonomous region, or municipality over the past year.

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The Xian outbreak, which led to cases in other cities including Beijing, could be traced back to a flight arriving from Pakistan, but it was unclear how it spread to local communities.

Many people have been banned from leaving their residential areas, but a city government official said Friday that the curbs in less risky areas would be loosened when the time was right.

PhD student Li Jiaxin, 23, said no one could leave her university campus. She was spending New Year’s Eve with her three roommates and was unable to meet her boyfriend and family.

“I am perhaps what you would think of a person with a strong sense of ritual, so I’m still a little sad that we are not together at this point,” she said.

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China’s tough epidemic policy has helped keep its sprawling industrial sector from slipping into prolonged downtime and generating important export profits as other pillars of growth weakened.

But unpredictable disruptions have shaken consumer sentiment, affecting the hospitality, hospitality and tourism industries.

A worker surnamed Wang at a traditional tea house in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, said her company’s revenues had been cut in half compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Many guests from other provinces came to our tea house to try Yunnan’s pu’er tea, but there are fewer now,” said Wang.

“My salary has not been cut, but I feel like I can lose my job at any time.”

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Reuters graphic
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Reporting by Ryan Woo, Roxanne Liu, Martin Quin Pollard, and Beijing Newsroom; Adaptation by Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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