Coronavirus: China steps up government planning to limit Lunar New Year travel
- Transport ministry establishes a pandemic prevention working group, and says it is necessary to stagger journeys and monitor passenger flow
- Authorities have already encouraged people not to travel to visit relatives, before the customary annual migration
Authorities have stressed the importance of passenger flow analysis during the festival and encouraged schools and companies to stagger holidays.
Mass migration across China normally occurs during Lunar New Year, as people travel to join family gatherings. The holiday this year falls on February 12, and about 407 million train journeys are expected to be taken between January 28 and March 8, according to China’s railway authority.
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The working group consists of 15 member units, including the ministry of public security, the national railway administration and the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Li Xiaopeng, the transport minister, is to lead it.
Li said it was necessary to stagger journeys and monitor passenger flow during the festivities. The working group should strictly regulate imports of cold chain logistics and tighten up pandemic controls covering people returning from overseas, he said.
He also called for a reduction in unnecessary travel and gatherings, in an effort to limit the spread of infections.
China on Sunday recorded its biggest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since July, the country’s national health authority said on Monday, as new infections in the northern province of Hebei continued to rise. Hebei accounted for 82 of the 103 new infections reported nationwide on Sunday.
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A number of schools have shifted their winter holiday to an earlier date and students have been divided into batches to return to school at different times. In some areas, companies have staggered holidays for staff and offered bonuses and subsidies to encourage them to stay in their local region instead of travelling during the festival.
For those returning to China from overseas, or travelling domestically from areas labelled medium to high risk, a negative swab test result must be shown and at least 14 days’ isolation are required on arrival.