President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that China is “entering a new phase” in Covid control, urging “additional effort” in a bid to counter “difficult challenges” in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak in course in the country since Beijing relaxed its strict policy of lockdowns and mass testing, turning towards “living with the virus.”
In his annual televised address to mark the New Year, Xi said China had “adapted” its Covid response to the evolving situation, his latest public comments on rising infections.
“Following a targeted and science-based approach, we have adapted our response to COVID in light of the evolving situation to protect people’s lives and health to the greatest extent possible,” Xi said, according to an official transcript. of the published speech. by the state news agency Xinhua.
“With extraordinary efforts, we have overcome unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and it has not been an easy journey for anyone,” he said in a rare admission of the difficulties China is facing in controlling the massive surge in infections reported across the country. since the beginning of December.
“We have now entered a new phase of the Covid response in which difficult challenges remain. Everyone is holding on with a lot of strength, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Let’s go the extra mile to get ahead, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory,” Xi said.
The outbreak in China has prompted several countries, fearing an international outbreak and new variants, to impose travel restrictions on Chinese travelers. Britain and France were the latest countries to impose restrictions on travelers coming from China on Friday.
Xi delivered his speech as the State Council, China’s cabinet, released a roadmap to deal with an expected surge in infections in rural China as hundreds of millions of people begin traveling for the upcoming holidays. Chinese New Year in January.
The joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council and the central leading group for rural affairs jointly published a work plan on Saturday, “specifying the pending tasks to strengthen the epidemic control system at the grassroots level, ensuring the supply of medicines and improving the protection of vulnerable groups so that rural areas can cope with the risks of contagion linked to the spike in holiday travel,” the state-run tabloid Global Times reported on Saturday.
According to the 2021 population census, China has 509.8 million rural residents.
“Villages across China, where medical resources are relatively scarce and less accessible, are bracing for the risks as large groups of people travel and return to their hometowns amid the “two holidays”: the New Year’s holiday and the Spring Festival holiday. the GT report said.