Last weekend, the number of new symptomatic COVID-19 cases in China hit a peak not seen since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The spike was seen as significant enough to warrant locking down Xi’an, a city of more than 13 million people.
Here, as a writer, I feel a little ill-equipped to flesh out this news without some kind of dramatic accompaniment, so please imagine a drumroll. The reported new high for daily symptomatic cases in this country of 1.4 billion people was all of 164.
Surface appearances make it difficult to assess news like this. Across broad swaths of the globe, new coronavirus infections are surging, and in many places indeed reaching new highs, driven by the rapid spread of the omicron variant, which scientists say is far more transmissible than the delta version it is displacing. By Sunday, the same day that China posted the news of its 164 symptomatic cases, the United States’ seven-day average of new infections stood at 203,000.