China’s Xi urges steps to ‘protect’ lives as China lifts COVID-19 curbs

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Chinese President Xi Jinping urged officials to take steps to protect lives on Monday in his first public remarks on COVID-19 since Beijing dramatically loosened hardline containment measures this month.

Having been largely sheltered from the virus for much of the pandemic, China is now experiencing the world’s biggest surge in infections after restrictions that torpedoed the economy were abruptly lifted.

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Studies have estimated that around one million people could die over the next few months. Many in the population are grappling with shortages of medicine, while emergency medical facilities are strained by an influx of under vaccinated elderly patients.

“At present, COVID-19 prevention and control in China are facing a new situation and new tasks,” Xi said in a directive, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“We should launch the patriotic health campaign in a more targeted way... fortify a community line of defense for epidemic prevention and control, and effectively protect people’s lives, safety and health,” Xi said.

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