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Peak travel period calls for circumspection

Updated:2021-12-15 12:36:50   China Daily

Staff members disinfect and clean the facilities at a subway station in Shanghai, Nov 27, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

With 51 locally transmitted novel coronavirus infections reported on Monday, among which 44 were in Zhejiang province, there is no doubt that the country is still in the long tail of the resurgence of the virus that started about two weeks after the National Day holiday in October.

Those were all the Delta strain of the virus. More worrying, since it comes when the peak travel period is just around the corner, two overseas returnees were found to be infected with the highly transmissible Omicron variant; one in Tianjin on Thursday last week and one in Guangzhou on Monday. That should warn the nation that the new enemy is finally at the gate, about half a month after it was identified by the World Health Organization.

Since the uptick in trips for the New Year holiday will segue into the Spring Festival travel season, which comes early this year on Jan 31, and that overlaps with the Beijing Winter Olympic Games that begins on Feb 4 and closes on the 20th, the country has every reason to be on the highest alert against another wave of the virus, which has not yet exhausted its ability to prove its vitality.

Some are urging the authorities to repeat the cautionary call of last year for people to refrain from traveling and celebrate the Spring Festival where they are. That would certainly reduce the chances of infection. But heeding the urging of the government, many of those working far from their homes, who number about 300 million, have not returned home for a Spring Festival family reunion for two years in a row.

Since the latest clusters of infections are concentrated in a handful of places, such as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and Zhejiang, Heilongjiang and Yunnan provinces, and the transmission chains have largely been cut thanks to efficient and prompt responses, as long as the people follow the epidemic protocols and the local authorities fulfill their duties, people wishing to travel to and from low-risk regions should be allowed to do so, unless the situation takes a turn for the worse.

With about 2.6 billion doses of vaccines having been administered nationwide as of Monday, normalizing the Spring Festival holiday will justify the nation's confidence in the country's scientific epidemic prevention and control model which is based on efficient management and implementation, the application of big data and people's cooperation.

The purpose of epidemic prevention and control measures is to enable people to safely go about their normal lives.

In other words, since about 80 percent of the population will have been vaccinated by the end of this year, which will be close to the 83 percent required for herd immunity as experts advise, the country should make all-out efforts to create the necessary conditions so that people can enjoy family reunions during Spring Festival.

Keywords:   Peak travel period