2 Billion People To Travel In China’s “Great Migration” Over Next 40 Days


SHANGHAI: China on Saturday marked the first day of “Chun Yun”, the 40-day Lunar New Year travel period known as the world’s largest annual migration pre-pandemic, bracing for a huge surge in travelers and the spread of COVID. -19 infection.
This Lunar New Year public holiday, which officially runs from January 21, will be the first since 2020 without domestic travel restrictions.

China last month saw the dramatic dismantling of its “zero-Covid” regime after historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, restricted movement, mass lockdowns and heavy damage to the world’s No. 2 economy.

Investors hope the reopening will revive the $17-trillion economy, which has suffered the slowest growth in nearly half a century.

But the sudden changes have exposed many of China’s 1.4 billion people to the virus for. The first time, triggering a wave of infections. that is overwhelming some hospitals. Emptying pharmacy shelves of drugs and creating long lines at crematoriums.

China’s transport ministry said on . Friday that more than 2 billion passengers will travel in the. Next 40 days, up 99.5% year-on-year and reaching 70.3% of 2019 trip numbers.

Reaction to the news online was mixed. With some commenting on the freedom to return home and celebrate. The Lunar New Year with family for the first time in years.

Many others, but, said they would not travel this year, a common . Theme with concerns about infecting elderly relatives.

“I don’t dare to go back to my hometown for fear of bringing back. The poison,” said one such comment on Twitter-like Weibo.

There is widespread concern that the large migration of workers to. Their hometowns in cities will lead to an increase in infections in small towns and rural areas . Where ICU beds and ventilators are less equipped to deal with them.

Julian Evans-Pritchard. Senior China economist at Capital Economics, acknowledged that risk in a note on . Friday but said that “in the big cities. That make up the bulk of China’s economy, the worst seems to be over”.

Ernan Cui, an analyst at Gavecal Dragonomics in Beijing. Cited several online surveys indicating. That the current wave of infections has. Already peaked in most regions. Noting that “there is not much difference between urban and rural areas.”

Border reopening

Sunday marked the reopening of China’s border with Hong Kong and . The end of China’s rule to quarantine inbound international travelers. It opened the door for many Chinese to travel abroad for .  . Three years ago without fear of being quarantined upon their return.

. World Health Organization says China’s official virus data underreports . The true extent of its outbreak.

Chinese officials and state media have defended the handling of the outbreak, downplayed. The severity of the outbreak and condemned. The need for overseas travel for its residents.

In Hong Kong on Saturday. Those who had made appointments had to stand in line for about 90 minutes at. A center for PCR tests required for travel to countries including mainland China.

Treatment ahead

For much of the pandemic. China has poured resources into a massive PCR testing program to track and trace. COVID-19 cases, but the focus is now shifting to vaccines and treatments.

In Shanghai, for example, the city government on. Friday announced the suspension of free PCR tests for residents starting January 8.

A circular released by four government ministries on Saturday indicated . A redistribution of financial resources for treatment, outlining a plan for government. Funds to subsidize 60% of treatment costs until March 31.

That would allow domestic drugmakers to manufacture and distribute generic versions of. The US firm’s COVID-19 antiviral drug paxlovide in China.

Many Chinese are trying to buy medicine overseas and have it shipped to China.

On the vaccine front. China’s CanSino Biologics Inc announced that it has started trial. Production for its COVID-19 mRNA booster vaccine, known as CS-2034.

China has relied on nine domestically-developed COVID vaccines approved for use. Including inactivated vaccines, but none adapted to target the highly-mutable Omicron variant and. Its variants currently in use.

The country’s immunization rate is above 90%, but the rate for adults. Who have had a booster shot has dropped to 57.9% and for people 80 and older to 42.3%, according to.

China reported three new Covid deaths on the mainland for Friday

, bringing. Its official virus death toll to 5,267, one of the lowest in the world. International health experts believe Beijing’s narrow definition of Covid. Deaths does not reflect a true count.


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