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Xi Jinping's Response as His Country Is Hit by a New Wave of Covid-19

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday 31 December 2022 that there should be more effort and unity as the country enters a 'new phase' in its approach to fighting the outbreak. It's the first time the public has commented on covid-19 since his administration had a three-week lockdown and strict mass testing regulations.

China's sudden change earlier this month from the "zero-COVID" regulations it has maintained for nearly 3 years has resulted in infections hitting all countries without being resolved. This has resulted in further reductions in economic activity and international concerns, with Britain and France being the latest countries to impose restrictions on tourists from China.

The replacement by China follows initial unprecedented protests over the regulations championed by Xi, identifying the strongest public uprising in his decade-old presidency and along with a grim development figure for the country's economy of USD17 trillion.

In a televised address to identify the New Year, Xi explained that China is already dealing with hardships and obstacles that have not yet occurred initially in the fight against covid-19, and its rules are "maximized" when circumstances and time are absolutely necessary.

"Since the spread of the pandemic most cadres and masses, especially health workers, grassroots employees have faced difficulties and bravely persevered," Xi said, as taken by AFP, Monday, January 2, 2023.

"Now that the control and prevention of the pandemic is in a new set, it is still a period of struggle, everyone is pursuing and trying hard, and Dawn has been in sight. Let's work harder again, persistence has the meaning of victory, and unity has the meaning of victory," he said.

New Year's Eve spurred reflection online and by residents of Wuhan, the epicenter of the covid-19 pandemic nearly three years ago, on zero-COVID regulations and the impact of their reversal. Some in Wuhan's urban hub have said they want normal life to return in 2023 even as cases have risen since the outbreak limit was withdrawn.

Wuhan resident Chen Mei, 45, explained she hopes her teenage daughter doesn't witness further problems at her school.

"When he can't go to school and can only take online classes, it's not an efficient learning move," she said.

In all countries, some people expressed similar wishes on social media, while others commented.

Several thousand Twitter-like Weibo users in the Land of Bamboo Curtains commented on the omission of a video made by local store Netease News that collected real stories from 2022 that have already attracted Chinese audiences.

Much of the narrative placed in the video, which on Saturday could not be watched or shared on local social media bases, highlighted the distress ordinary Chinese encountered as a result due to initially strict covid-19 regulations.

Weibo and Netease did not immediately reply to her desire for comments.

One Weibo hashtag about the video garnered nearly four million clicks before it vanished from bases around noon on Saturday. Social media users create new hashtags to make comments keep pouring out.

"Once the world is evil, you can only give false compliments but you can't show real life," one wearer noted, including a monitor capture of a blank page shown while searching for hashtags.

The disappearance of the videos and hashtags, witnessed by some as censorship, shows that the Chinese Government is still watching the story surrounding the eradication of the disease as a politically sensitive issue.

Hospital hassles

A new wave of infections is already flooding hospitals and funeral homes across the country, with rows of bodies outside crematoria spurring public concerns.

China, a country with a population of 1.4 billion people, reported one new covid-19 death for Friday, the same as yesterday - a figure that doesn't match the experience of other countries after reopening.

U.K.-based health data firm Airfinity explained on Thursday that about 9,000 people in China are likely to die daily from covid-19. Cumulative deaths in China since Dec. 1 are likely to reach 100,000, with a total of 18.six million infections.

Director of the National Center for Diseases of Spreading Diseases (CDC China) Zhang Wenhong explained to the People's Daily in an interview circulated on Saturday that Shanghai had reached the top of infections on December 22, explaining that there are currently about 10 million cases.

He explained that some of the figures show that about 50,000 people in the city of 25 million need to be hospitalized in the next few weeks.

At Wuhan's central hospital, where former COVID-19 whistleblower Li Wenliang worked and died of the virus in early 2020, the number of patients dropped on Saturday compared to activity in recent weeks, an employee outside the hospital's fever clinic said.

"This wave is almost over," said the employee wearing a hazmat jacket.

A pharmacist whose shop is next to the hospital explained many people in the city are now affected and recovering.

"Right now a lot of parents are sick because of it," he said.

In the first signs of tolls in Chinese manufacturing giants factoring in the covid-19 regulatory shift, data on Saturday showed factory activity waning for the 3rd straight month in December and at its sharpest move in nearly 3 years.

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