Despite an arsenal of some of the world’s harshest COVID-19 measures, China concluded the last week of 2021 with the highest number of local coronavirus cases for any seven-day period since containing the country’s first outbreak nearly two years ago.
The National Health Commission reported 175 additional community infections with proven clinical symptoms for the week ending December 31, increasing the total number of local symptomatic cases in mainland China to 1,151.
An epidemic in the northern industrial and tech powerhouse of Xian, a metropolis of 13 million people, has fueled the increase.
The spreading outbreak in Xian is expected to strengthen officials’ commitment to stop transmissions as soon as cases appear. Since Dec. 9, the city, which has been under lockdown for ten days as of Saturday, has registered 1,451 local symptomatic cases, the most of any Chinese city in 2021.
While China’s case count is small in comparison to many other epidemics across the world, preventing severe flare-ups in 2022 will be critical. The Winter Olympic Games will be held in Beijing in February, and the governing Communist Party will convene its once-every-five-years conference in the fall, at which President Xi Jinping is anticipated to win a third term as party secretary.