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‘Perseverance means victory’: Xi outlines China’s priorities in fight against COVID-19

Defending the now-dumped “zero-COVID” policy, China’s President Xi Jinping on Wednesday said the country had “entered a new phase of COVID-19 response.”

“We have now entered a new phase of COVID-19 response. Tough challenges remain, but the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance means victory,” Xi said in his first public comments today after China abandoned the zero-COVID policy.

Xi made these comments during virtual conversations with villagers, elderly patients, and health professionals from northeast Heilongjiang province, southwest Sichuan province, and eastern Fujian province.

“The country had made the right choice to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic with strict measures over the past nearly three years,” Xi said, referring to the strict zero-COVID policy under which the Chinese government imposed severe lockdowns and put people into government quarantine centers to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

He, however, expressed concern over the COVID-19 situation in rural China.

Speaking to villagers from the Mianyang region in Sichuan province, Xi said he was “primarily concerned about rural areas and rural residents after the country adjusted its COVID-19 response measures.”

The Chinese president, according to state-run Xinhua News, urged health authorities “to improve medical care for those most vulnerable to the virus in rural areas, and ensure the health of rural residents and their normal running of work and life to the maximum extent possible.”

After witnessing sporadic demonstrations against the lockdown policy last month, China rushed to roll back the zero-COVID policy and fully opened to international travel early this month.

However, after the number of daily COVID-19 cases saw an unprecedented rise, the country’s National Health Commission (NHC) stopped releasing the daily data.

Data released early this weekend showed a staggering number of deaths were caused between Dec. 8, 2022, and Jan. 12. The NHC said COVID-19 caused 59,938 deaths during this period, revealing the figure for the first time since the latest outbreak in the country.

Analysis done by the NHC health professionals said the average age of people who lost their lives was 80.3 years old, with 90.1% of fatalities above 65 years old while more than 90% suffered from underlying conditions.

“China has … withstood several rounds of outbreaks of virus mutations,” Xi said on Wednesday.

He said the focus of the current COVID-19 response policy of China “has shifted from infection prevention to medical treatment, with protecting people's health and preventing severe cases being the priority.”

Calling for an increase in medical resources and the supply of medical services and drugs, Xi said: “Stricter epidemic prevention and health management measures should be taken at nursing homes and welfare facilities to prevent clusters of infection, as older people are the top priority in the current COVID-19 response stage.”

Source: Anadolu Agency