Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Monitoring, More than 300 million trips were made during the holiday, nearly 90% of pre-pandemic levels, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism told Bloomberg.
While the revelry is a relief after recurring lockdowns, it also carries the risk of reigniting the omicron wave that scorched the country in recent weeks, filling hospitals and overwhelming crematoriums.
“Pent-up demand is being released as many people rush to scenic spots, watch firework shows and crowd into restaurants and hotels,” Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc., wrote in a note on Thursday. Government-released data “suggest the ‘exit wave’ is quickly coming to an end.”
The speed with which China charged through its reopening is unrivaled. A month ago, the government estimated 37 million people a day were contracting the virus. The streets went quiet. Just as quickly, the population appears to have turned the page, Bloomberg reported.
Nevertheless, it remains unclear how severe and widespread the outbreak is. The government stopped universal testing and changed how it defines COVID-19 mortality, clouding official reports. According to a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, the number of patients hospitalized with severe disease or dying from COVID-19 has declined more than 70% from the peak in early January.
While extreme weather in some regions exacerbated traffic, many people were undaunted by the challenge or the risk of supercharging the world’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak. Total bookings were four times higher than last year, when strict measures limited travel as well as the spread of the virus, according to Trip.com.
The jubilation of reopening was mixed with tourism-related headaches. Carol Gong, who reunited with her family in Shanghai, was overwhelmed by the crowds during a day trip to Disneyland.
“It looked as if we were watching a zombie movie, as people lined up heel-to-heel and shoulder-to-shoulder in a meandering queue,” said Gong, who waited an hour in freezing weather to get into the theme park. Still, it was worth it, she said. “People are so relieved that China has reopened. They’re starting to relax and enjoy life.”