BEIJING, Dec. 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — From medical professionals to delivery men and women, from community workers to next-door neighbors, ordinary Chinese people are doing their best and lending a hand to help others cope with the latest waves of COVID-19 infections in the country.
With extraordinary efforts, China has prevailed over unprecedented difficulties and challenges in fighting the pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday while delivering his 2023 New Year Address.
Officials and the general public, particularly medical professionals and community workers, have bravely stuck to their posts through it all, Xi said.
“It has not been an easy journey for anyone,” he said, calling for an extra effort from the people to pull through.
People first, life first
In 2022, China continued to optimize its COVID response in light of the evolving situation. Based on the mutation of the virus, the popularization of vaccination and the accumulation of experience in prevention and control, the National Health Commission said in December that the country’s epidemic prevention and control has entered a new stage.
Shifting from infection prevention to medical treatment, China has rolled out a host of measures to boost access to medical treatment and drugs, improve health services for the elderly and other vulnerable groups, speed up vaccination, and beef up health infrastructure in rural areas.
Seventy percent of those aged over 60 had received a booster dose of vaccines as of December 13, up from less than 53 percent among the age group of the population by March 24, according to data from the State Council Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism Against COVID-19.
In addition, the relaxation of the response policy in 2022 comes after China has effectively responded to five global COVID waves and avoided widespread infections with the original strain and the Delta variant, which are relatively more pathogenic than the other variants.
“Since COVID-19 struck, we have put the people first and put life first all along,” Xi said during his New Year Address.
“Following a science-based and targeted approach, we have adapted our COVID response in light of the evolving situation to protect the life and health of the people to the greatest extent possible,” he added.
China has kept its severe COVID-19 cases and death rates among the lowest in the world. The average life expectancy of the Chinese has continued to rise amid the pandemic, from 77.93 years in 2020 to 78.2 years in 2021.
Light right in front
Starting January 8, China will downgrade management of the disease from Class A to Class B in accordance with the country’s law on prevention and treatment of infectious disease, in a major shift of its epidemic response policies. The country will also scrap quarantine measures for inbound travelers from the day.
Following the announcement of the latest adjustments, searches and bookings for international flights and hotels rocketed on multiple Chinese online travel agencies, with some numbers hitting three-year highs, indicating that normal life is picking up.
Another sign that experts believe bodes the revival of the country’s consumption market in 2023, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas nationwide have reopened and reported burgeoning visits.
“Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us,” Xi said during Saturday’s address to ring in the new year.
“Let’s make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.”