On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the nation for the first time since the Chinese government relaxed its rigorous COVID-19 policy three weeks ago. President Xi called for unity and an even greater effort to combat the rapid spread of the virus. Since the policy was relaxed, protests have increased as citizens have become increasingly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.
Grim growth figures for the Chinese economy have been released, and the UK and France have both imposed travel restrictions from China. Airfinity estimates that almost 9,000 people in the country are dying from COVID-related causes each day, with a cumulative total of 18.6 million cases reported since December. The pharmacist in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first reported, said most people in the city have now been infected and recovered. The virus has had a noticeable impact on the manufacturing sector, as factory activity shrank in December at the sharpest rate in nearly three years.
Social media users have also criticized the removal of a video collating real-life stories of those affected by the virus, which was seen as an act of censorship. President Xi’s speech indicates the need for the public to come together and fight the virus, while citizens hope for a return to normal life in 2023.