(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country’s Covid-19 strategy was “optimized” to protect people’s lives and minimize economic costs, his first comments on the issue since his government abruptly started dismantling the harsh policy earlier this month.
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“We have optimized Covid control strategy based on time and situation in order to best protect people’s lives and health, and minimize the impact on economic and social development,” Xi said while listing his achievements this year at an event with the nation’s top political advisory body, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.
The Xinhua report quoted Xi using the phrase “Covid control strategy,” instead of the one for “Covid Zero.”
See: Xi Stays Silent as Covid Zero Strategy He Championed Crumbles
Xi has remained silent on Covid Zero since the since his government took its first easing steps on Dec. 7. China’s sudden exit from Covid Zero — which for nearly three years had required mass testing, snap lockdowns and mostly closed borders — has sparked a surge of infections.
The extent of the outbreak has been difficult to gauge because officials stopped publishing an accurate case count and narrowed their definition of a virus death, forcing researchers to rely on outside estimates and anecdotal evidence.
More: Xi Bets China’s Economic Rebound Will Offset Covid Misery
China could see as many as 25,000 deaths a day from Covid-19 later in January and mortalities from the contagious respiratory illness will probably peak around Jan. 23, the second day of the annual Lunar New Year holiday in the country of 1.4 billion, according to Airfinity Ltd., a London-based research firm that focuses on predictive health analytics.
Daily infections will peak 10 days before at around 3.7 million cases, the researcher said.
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