Chinese Lunar New Year ushers in world’s largest annual migration

Beijing, Jan 7 (EFE).- China’s “chunyun” Spring festival kicked off on Saturday, a 40-day period that is the largest annual migration in the world and which this year is expected to see vast numbers of travellers going home for Lunar New Year celebrations after Beijing lifted its stringent zero Covid policy last month.

China’s transport ministry said it was expecting 2.1 billion passengers to take trips this year between January 7 and February 15, double the amount in 2022.

The growth in the volume of passengers comes after Chinese authorities announced the dismantling in early December of Beijing’s zero Covid policy which had kept the nation under strict pandemic rules, including lockdowns, regular PCR testing and restrictions on entering and leaving the country.

The raft of Covid rules had been in place for almost three years but were lifted following an unprecedented wave of protests that gripped several key cities.

Millions of people will travel to their hometowns during the 40-day migration, with the Lunar New Year public holiday slated for January 27-27.

But the sudden shift from stiff restrictions to freedom has triggered an infection wave that has threatened to overload hospitals, emptied pharmacy shelves and triggered international concern.

Rural areas are bracing for an increase in the number of infections and are working to secure healthcare provisions as travelers return home for “chun yun”, officials from the National Health Commission have said.

Since restrictions were lifted the government has stopped sharing daily Covid data and many have voiced concerns that Beijing is not giving reliable information about the current Covid caseload and death toll.

China is also readying to drop border controls on Sunday, January 8, for the first time since March 2020.

On Sunday Covid will be downgraded to a Category B disease and inbound travelers will no longer have to quarantine.EFE


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