China COVID-19 cases rebound as party gears up for key meeting with Xi

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China is being hit by a rebound in COVID-19 cases following the week-long National Day holiday, just as the country’s top leaders gather in Beijing for a meeting with President Xi Jinping.

The nation recorded 1,645 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, the highest total since September 2. While Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang had the biggest clusters, both Beijing and Shanghai found new cases outside of quarantine, suggesting the virus might be still spreading.

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While the eight new cases reported in the capital on Saturday is relatively few, any rebound in infections would pose a headache for leaders.

Some 3,000 delegates are gathering in the city to attend the twice-a-decade congress starting October 16 that’s expected to hand Xi a norm-breaking third term in power.

A preparatory meeting of roughly 370 members and alternate members of the Central Committee is scheduled to begin today.

Beijing has found 10 transmission chains across eight districts since the latest flareups started on September 29, an official with the city’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control said at a press briefing on Saturday afternoon.

A surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide would be embarrassing for Xi, who has maintained his zero-tolerance strategy against the virus -- accepting the social and economic cost of snap lockdowns and centralized quarantining -- to avoid the death tolls seen in other parts of the world.

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