Publish dateSaturday 7 January 2023 - 15:32
Story Code : 263508
China’s ‘great migration’ kicks-off
China marked the first day of “chun yun,” the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel known pre-pandemic as the world’s largest annual migration of people.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Monitoring, This Lunar New Year public holiday, which officially runs from January 21, will be the first since 2020 without domestic travel restrictions, Reuters reported.
Over the last month China has seen the dramatic dismantling of its “zero-COVID” regime following historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, restricted movement, mass lockdowns and heavy damage to the world’s No.2 economy.
Investors are hoping that the reopening will eventually reinvigorate a $17-trillion economy suffering its lowest growth in nearly half a century.
But the abrupt changes have exposed many of China’s 1.4 billion population to the virus for the first time, triggering a wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals, emptying pharmacy shelves of medication and causing long lines to form at crematoriums.
China’s Ministry of Transport said on Friday that it expects more than 2 billion passengers to take trips over the next 40 days, an increase of 99.5% year-on-year and reaching 70.3 percent of 2019 trip numbers.
Reaction to that news online was mixed, with some comments hailing the freedom to return to hometowns and celebrate the Lunar New Year with family for the first time in years.
Many others, however, said they would not travel this year, with worry of infecting elderly relatives a common theme.
“I dare not go back to my hometown, for fear of bringing the poison back,” said one such comment on the Twitter-like Weibo.
There are widespread concerns that the great migration of workers in cities to their hometowns will cause a surge in infections in smaller towns and rural areas less well-equipped with ICU beds and ventilators to deal with them
Sunday marks the reopening of China’s border with Hong Kong and the end of China’s requirement for inbound international travelers to quarantine. That effectively opened the door for many Chinese to travel abroad for the first time since borders slammed shut nearly three years ago, without fear of having to quarantine on their return.
More than a dozen countries are now demanding COVID-19 tests from Chinese travelers, as the World Health Organisation said China’s official virus data underreported the true extent of its outbreak.
Chinese officials and state media have defended the handling of the outbreak, playing down the severity of the surge and denouncing foreign travel requirements for its residents.
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