It is the biggest annual human migration on Earth, and in the months following the first coronavirus-tainted Lunar New Year , many foresaw the new and little understood virus spreading to all corners of the largest population on Earth. To the credit of world’s strictest lockdown, that turned out not to be the case. As the rest of the world struggled with the deadliest pandemic in a century, China was in comparatively robust shape. But with pockets of cases having recently appeared in the mainland – 54 new infections on January 27, one day before the start of this year’s mass-travel season, 41 of them locally transmitted – the Chinese government is not about to take another chance of spreading more than holiday cheer throughout the population. Workers have been financially incentivised to stay home with more crisp notes in red packets, but unlike most other countries under strict anti-Covid-19 safety measures, many cinemas, museums, libraries and shops in China have been asked to remain open. The Transport Ministry estimated 1.2 billion trips would be made over the 40-day holiday season. While for most countries that number seems astronomical, in the context of China’s Lunar New Year rush it is a 60 per cent drop from 2019. And by next week, the National Health Commission aims to have 50 million people immunised. Train stations and airports, usually bustling with passengers, seem more occupied with temperature-taking robots and hazmat-clad workers spraying disinfectant, but as the first week of the busiest travel season of the year has shown, the pleas, incentives and tighter measures for those choosing to travel have paid off. And perhaps it is appropriate for the Year of the Ox to have begun in such a steadfast and stubborn fashion.