China ends 2021 with highest number of weekly COVID cases since mastering original outbreak

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A medical worker in protective gear takes a swab sample from a man for nucleic acid testing at a residential complex, in another round of mass testing in the wake of the coronavirus disease outbreak ( COVID-19) in Xian, Shaanxi province, China on December 27, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS / File Photo

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BEIJING, Jan.1 (Reuters) – China ended the last week of 2021 with its highest number of local COVID-19 cases in a seven-day period since containing the country’s first outbreak nearly two years.

The National Health Commission on Saturday reported 175 new community infections with clinical symptoms confirmed for Dec.31, bringing the total number of local symptomatic cases in mainland China to 1,151 over the past week, mainly due to a epidemic in the industrial and technological center of the north-west. from Xian.

China has maintained some of the world‘s toughest COVID-19 measures, even though cases fell sharply earlier this year.

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The worsening epidemic in Xian, a city of 13 million people, is likely to strengthen authorities’ resolve to step up efforts to curb transmission of the virus when cases emerge. The city has reported 1,451 local cases since Dec. 9, the highest tally of any Chinese city in 2021.

Xian has been in confinement for 10 days on Saturday.

Preventing major epidemics in 2022 is important in a year when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics and a Communist Party congress every five years, where President Xi Jinping is likely to get a third term as party secretary.

The emergence of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron, which is already prompting many countries to reverse or suspend their reopening plans, will also lead Beijing to maintain its high vigilance against the virus. China has reported a handful of imported Omicron cases and at least one locally transmitted case.

Since August, China has aimed to get any outbreak under control within about two weeks, much shorter than the four to six weeks in previous battles against the sporadic outbreaks that occurred after the initial nationwide outbreak, according to the Commission. national health.

Yunnan Province, which shares an international border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, reported new local symptomatic cases 92 out of 365 days last year, 25% of the time, more often than any other province, region autonomous or municipality.

Shaanxi Province, whose capital is Xian, reported new local symptomatic cases in 30 days.

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XIAN LOCKOUT

The Xian epidemic has yet to see a significant drop in the number of cases. Officials said the virus spread quietly throughout the city before strict restrictions were imposed.

The outbreak, which has also led to cases in other cities, including Beijing, could be attributed to a flight from Pakistan, but it is not known how it then spread to local communities.

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

23-year-old graduate student Li Jiaxin said no one could leave her university campus. She spent New Years Eve with her three roommates and couldn’t meet her boyfriend and family.

“I might be what you would consider a person with a strong sense of ritual, so I still feel a little sad that we’re not together right now,” she said.

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Reporting by Ryan Woo, Roxanne Liu and Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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