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New Covid infections pose challenge to China's growth and Xi's leadership

When Britain was in its second lockdown last November and the economy was contracting, China’s quarterly growth rate was hitting 6.5%. Figures last week showed that for the full year, the world’s second-largest economy could boast a growth rate of 2.3% while all its rivals in Europe and the Americas were going backwards. The trend could be traced back to Beijing’s efforts to tackle the virus – albeit after a period of denial – and keep infection rates among the lowest in the world. But the week-long new year public holiday from 11 February will be a stiff test of Beijing’s ability to keep the pandemic in check and its economy growing. Officials have told the many hundreds of millions of people who traditionally travel to visit relatives – and this year celebrate the year of the ox – that they should stay at home to keep the infection rate under control. A spiral of cases in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, has dented President Xi Jinping’s claim that the virus was beaten last year and only the west mishandled events to allow a second wave. Xi has gambled on rural migrants

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Norwegian Cruise Line will require crew members to get the COVID-19 vaccine before boarding as sailings continue to be pushed back

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky ship. Alan Diaz/Associated PressNorwegian Cruise Line and its Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand will be asking all of its crew members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to boarding, the cruise companies’ spokespeople told Insider in an email statement. It’s just the latest sign that cruise sailings won’t be departing any time soon. Cruise ships first gained their reputation of being coronavirus hotspots in February 2020 after Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess left thousands of passengers stuck and hundreds infected with the virus. Shortly after, dozens of cruise ships around the world started facing coronavirus-related disruptions, leaving ships and its passengers stranded, infected, or dead. Following this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced – and later extended – its no-sail order as COVID-19 continued to surge across the US. And after months of waiting, in October 2020, the CDC replaced its pause button on all sailing trips with the “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order,” a list of strict protocols needed for cruise lines to continue sailing again. Despite this new CDC order, and the impending unveiling of several highly anticipated cruise ships, the return of cruising still remains unknown. As of now, no

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