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Tens of millions head home for China holidays as Xi flags Covid worry

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'Gloomy emotions'  China's leader has expressed similar concern about the impact of the outbreak on rural areas during the holidays. "Xi said he was primarily concerned about rural areas and rural residents after the country adjusted its Covid-19 response measures," state news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday -- a reference to the relaxing of China's strict virus curbs last month.

He "stressed efforts to improve medical care for those most vulnerable to the virus in rural areas", Xinhua said. "Epidemic prevention and control has entered a new stage, and we are still in a period that requires great efforts," Xi was reported as saying, stressing the need to "address the shortcomings in epidemic prevention and control in rural areas".

After a gruelling month in which cases surged nationwide, the government said it would step up efforts to quell "gloomy emotions" online about the outbreak.

China's internet watchdog launched a campaign Wednesday to sponge out "fabricated patient experiences" online and "increase the rectification of epidemic-related online rumours".

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