Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Saturday for more effort and unity as the country enters a “new phase” in its approach to combating the pandemic, in his first comments to the public on COVID-19 since his government changed course three weeks ago and relaxed its rigorous policy of lockdowns and mass testing.
China’s abrupt switch earlier this month from the “zero-COVID” policy that it had maintained for nearly three years has led to infections sweeping across the country unchecked. . It has also caused a further drop in economic activity and international concern, with Britain and France becoming the latest countries to impose curbs on travellers from China.
The switch by China followed unprecedented protests over the policy championed by Xi, marking the strongest show of public defiance in his decade-old presidency and coinciding with grim growth figures for the country’s $17 trillion economy.
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