Beijing: Defending his country's stringently implemented zero-COVID policy amid a huge surge of coronavirus cases in Shanghai and other cities, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said China's targeted and effective COVID-19 prevention and control measures ensured the safe and smooth hosting of Winter Olympics.
"Against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic that rages across the world, we have put first the health of all participants, adhered to the policy of preventing the coronavirus from re-entering the country to cause a new epidemic, and strictly implemented the prevention and control measures," Xi said, addressing a gathering to honour those who have made outstanding contributions to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games.
He asserted that China's anti-COVID policy has once again withstood the test of time, contributing useful experience for the world to fight against the virus and host major international events.
"As some foreign athletes have said, if there was a gold medal for responding to the pandemic, then China deserves it," Xi said.
Under the dynamic zero-Covid policy, China has drastically cut international travel by cancelling visas and restricting flights since 2020.
Xi's comments came as Shanghai, the city of 26 million, has become a new epicentre of the latest COVID-19 surge in China, setting a six-straight day record by logging over 20,000 cases, prompting authorities to keep the city under lockdown for several days to conduct repeated mass tests.
On Friday, China's National Health Commission (NHC) reported over 24,100 coronavirus cases, including 22,648 asymptomatic, in the country.
Shanghai has reported 824 positive cases and 20,398 asymptomatic cases, according to the Commission's report.
As many as 1,540 new locally transmitted confirmed cases were reported across China as of Thursday, the NHC said.
This is the biggest spike of COVID cases in the country after Wuhan, where coronavirus first surfaced in December 2019.
The outbreak in Shanghai, caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19, is becoming so serious that the city's Communist Party sent an open letter to rally members to help front-line health workers in their quest to find and snuff out the disease, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Thursday.
It was the second letter since March 24 by cadres in the city where the party was established a century ago.
China has already rushed thousands of personnel from various medical services of the military to Shanghai, in a similar move to contain the coronavirus in Wuhan.
The Beijing Winter Olympic Games followed by the Paralympic Winter Games were held in February and March.
Beijing, which hosted the summer Olympics in 2008, has become the only city in the world to host both the summer and winter Olympics.
The inaugural ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics was boycotted by the US, the European Union and several other countries over allegations of human rights violations against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
The violence in Guangzhou was a marked escalation from similar protests in Shanghai, Beijing and other Chinese cities over the weekend. The current wave of country wide protests in biggest wave of civil disobedience in China since Xi Jinping started his reign as president a decade ago
Even as China is ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has chosen to deal with the crisis with a series of stringent methods, including a rather harsh lockdown, as part of its Zero Covid policy
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