With imported outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron strains unfolding, China faces grim challenges when it comes to maintaining a safe and orderly Spring Festival travel rush as the annual migration is beginning.
Even so, China is capable of ensuring the safety of the travel rush as a raft of anti-virus measures and its social organization and mobilization mechanisms are working efficiently to tackle problems in a timely manner.
This year's Spring Festival travel rush lasts from January 17 to February 25, with the number of passenger trips expected to reach 1.18 billion, up 35.6 percent from a year ago, according to figures released by the Ministry of Transport.
The consistent COVID-19 outbreaks have posed grave challenges for China to keep a safe and orderly Spring Festival travel rush. About 10 provincial regions have reported imported cases of the Omicron variant including Tianjin and Henan. The northwest Chinese city of Xi'an is still battling against one of the worst COVID-19 epidemics in the country since 2020.
This year has seen the third Spring Festival travel rush since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. The Chinese authorities have become more experienced in applying stringent anti-virus measures in areas that see high traffic due to the Spring Festival.
Requirements on the sterilization of public venues, body-temperature checks and wearing face masks have been strictly implemented at train stations, airports and bus stations. The transportation of daily necessities and materials is guaranteed, and contingency plans have been prepared to promptly tackle emergencies.
Railway and aviation authorities have vowed to stop or reduce passenger train and air services in epidemic-related areas and strictly control the flow of risky personnel to prevent the epidemic from spreading. Free refund measures will be introduced in a timely manner to avoid economic losses for passengers.
China's people-centered philosophy is apparent in the organization of the Spring Festival travel rush. The transportation authorities are making efforts to ensure the travel needs of rural migrant workers, students, the old, young, sick, disabled and pregnant are met. Special care is given to frontline workers during the Spring Festival travel rush to help them solve difficulties.
The Chinese government has also become more experienced in balancing prevention measures and social development. It has stressed the need for scientific and precise prevention and control of COVID-19 to mitigate the negative impact on people's lives.
To prevent local governments from taking excessive actions to curb the flow of travel, the authorities called for efforts to ensure orderly travel based on COVID-19 risk levels during the travel season.
Although the world is facing dark times in battling the pandemic, with more advanced vaccines and drugs developed, human beings are equipped with more powerful weapons in this war with the virus.
For the Chinese, Spring Festival is a time for family reunion and making wishes for the coming year. It is hoped the world could walk out of the shadow of the pandemic as soon as possible, and more families could get together without the fear of the virus.