Lunar New Year 2022: Chinese travelling to their hometowns

 Monday, January 31, 2022

The Chinese are traveling to their own hometowns for the Lunar New Year 2022, the country’s biggest family holiday, despite a government plea to stay where they are as Beijing tries to contain coronavirus outbreaks. Beijing recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases for a year and a half on Sunday, as the Chinese capital gears up to host the Winter Olympics in five days.

The holiday, which starts with Chinese New Year’s Eve on Monday, usually is the biggest annual movement of humanity as hundreds of millions of people who migrated for work visit their parents and sometimes spouses and children they left behind or travel abroad.

Some 260 million people travelled in the 10 says since the holiday rush started January 17, less than before the pandemic but up 46% over last year, official data shows. The Chinese government forecasts a total of 1.2 billion trips during the holiday season, up 36% from a year ago.

The Chinese capital, Beijing, is tightening controls to contain coronavirus outbreaks ahead of next week’s opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, a high-profile prestige event.

China’s infection numbers are modest compared with India, South Korea and some other countries. But they challenge Beijing’s “zero tolerance” strategy that aims to keep the virus out of China by isolating every infected person. The athletes, reporters and officials at the Winter Games are required to avoid contact with outsiders in hopes of preventing infection.

Some 106 of the 3,695 people who arrived from abroad for the Games so far tested positive for the coronavirus. Two are athletes or team officials. The authorities in Beijing have ordered mass testing for more than 2 million people in the capital’s Fengtai district following outbreaks there. Some families were ordered not to leave their homes.

Elsewhere, 1.2 million people in an area 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Beijing that is being developed as a possible site for ministries to relocate were told to stay put.

The travel restrictions were imposed on Xiong’an New District this week after five cases were found in people who came from the capital, according to notices circulated online by residents. They said the controls would last seven days.

The people who travel are required to show a negative result of a virus test within 48 hours before departure.

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