Last January, when the government of China imposed an unprecedented lockdown on the city of Wuhan in a belated effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it was right before the start of the Lunar New Year, the country’s most important holiday.
Now the virus is likely to disrupt the holiday for a second year, with officials advising the public not to travel as they battle outbreaks in two major cities.
After months of near-zero case numbers that have allowed life in China to largely return to normal, the country of 1.4 billion people has recorded 42 locally transmitted cases in the past week, many of them of unknown origin. Most appeared in Dalian, a northern port city, but there have also been a few in Beijing, the capital.
Officials in Beijing are looking ahead to the Lunar New Year, during which hundreds of millions of Chinese travel to their hometowns in what has been called the world’s largest annual human migration. Citing concerns that holiday travel could spread the virus, the government is discouraging Beijing residents from traveling and gathering for the holiday, especially the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions.
Travel companies have also been told not to organize any group tours to Beijing during the holiday, which this year falls on Feb 12.
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