China should take more effective COVID measures, minimise economic, social impact -Xi

National People's Congress (NPC) closing session in Beijing
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(This March 17 story corrects to show Xi's comment came from a meeting of the standing committee of the Politburo, not the Politburo meeting, paragraph 5-6)

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country to take more effective COVID-19 measures and minimise the impact of the epidemic on economic development, state television said on Thursday, as the country battles a new wave of infections.

China is fighting its biggest wave of locally transmitted COVID cases since it contained the initial outbreak centred on Wuhan in 2020.

Even as much of the world has relaxed or ended coronavirus restrictions, millions of people in northeastern China are under lockdown and authorities have imposed restrictions on business activities and cargo transport in major cities such as Shenzhen.

More than two dozen regions have reported infections in the past few weeks, despite a tiny caseload by global standards, putting pressure on China's "dynamic-clearance" policy that aims to curb flare-ups quickly as they arise.

China should curb the momentum of the virus spread as soon as possible while sticking to the "dynamic-clearance" policy, Xi told a meeting of the standing committee of the Politburo, the ruling Communist Party's top decision-making body.

Officials in areas with serious outbreaks should treat COVID control work as their top priority, and those whose dereliction of duty caused the outbreak to get out of control must be held accountable, state television reported, citing the meeting of Politburo's standing committee.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Frances Kerry)