China ended its final week of 2021 with its biggest tally of local coronavirus cases for any seven-day period since subduing the country's first epidemic nearly two years ago, despite an arsenal of some of the world's toughest COVID-19 measures, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The National Health Commission reported on Saturday 175 new community infections with confirmed clinical symptoms for Dec. 31, bringing the total number of local symptomatic cases in mainland China in the past week to 1,151.
The surge has been driven mostly by an outbreak in the northwestern industrial and tech hub of Xian, a city of 13 million.
The deepening outbreak in Xian will likely firm authorities' resolve to curb transmissions quicklyas and when cases emerge. The city, under lockdown for 10 days as of Saturday, has reported 1,451 local symptomatic cases since Dec. 9, the highest tally for any Chinese city in 2021.
While China's case count is tiny compared to many outbreaks elsewhere in the world, forestalling major flare-ups in 2022 will be important. Beijing will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games in February, and the ruling Communist Party will hold a once-every-five-years congress, expected in the fall, where President Xi Jinping will likely secure a third term as party secretary.
The emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant will also drive Beijing to stick to its high vigilance against the virus. China has reported a handful of imported Omicron cases and at least one locally transmitted case.