China urges folks to keep away from vacation journey as COVID instances bounce | Coronavirus pandemic Information
China reported the most common cases of COVID-19 in more than a decade on Friday as local governments and factory owners incentivized the country’s millions of migrant workers not to return to their home provinces in February.
A total of 144 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 14, the National Health Commission said in a statement, up from 138 cases the day before, the largest daily increase since 202 cases on March 1 last year.
The outbreak is concentrated in the northeast, where more than 28 million people are currently locked.
The commission said 135 of the new cases were local infections, 90 of them in Hebei province, near Beijing. Another 43 cases were reported in northeast Heilongjiang Province, with Guangxi and Shaanxi provinces each reporting one confirmed case.
The number of new asymptomatic cases that China does not include as confirmed cases fell to 66 from 78 the previous day.
A woman scans a health QR code on her smartphone to register her visit to the market before crossing the immigration checkpoint as China intensifies efforts to contain a new coronavirus outbreak [Tingshu Wang/Reuters]The outbreak is the worst in months and authorities are stepping up efforts to encourage people to avoid all non-essential travel during next month’s Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions of Chinese return to their hometowns. For many of the country’s 280 million migrant workers, it is the only time they see their families in rural provinces.
Businesses usually pay more for those who choose to work on the festival, but this year local governments and businesses are hoping the offer will be far more accepted, according to Reuters news agency.
Most provinces have issued notices calling on workers to stay in place, highlighting the importance of disease control and “ensuring the stability of industry and supply chains”. They offer incentives such as extra pay, prizes, entertainment, free New Year’s Eve banquets, and tiered vacation packages.
A statement from the government of Ningbo, a port and industrial center in Zhejiang Province on the east coast, said that discontinuing production during the Lunar New Year “could cause huge losses to businesses” given the high level of foreign demand.
China’s state planners said it expected vacation trips to be “significantly lower” than normal. Authorities in southern Jiangxi Province, a major source for migrant workers, estimate around 60 percent of travel expenses in 2019.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus last year after the first cases appeared in Wuhan coincided with the Lunar New Year.
When bans and travel restrictions were imposed, many were trapped in their villages for months and were forced into long quarantines when they finally returned to the cities.
Wang Zhishen, who works at a container factory in Dongguan, a major industrial city in the south, said he will likely stay there if his factory stays open, even though he has already bought a train ticket home to Gansu Province, 2,000 kilometers long. away in the northwest.
“What if you are unlucky and get infected on the way home? Then your whole family could get sick, ”he said.
“If my factory doesn’t close during the vacation, I’ll probably just stay in Dongguan. Going home is too risky. “
China is facing another outbreak of the coronavirus that began in Hebei, the province around Beijing [Andy Wong/AP Photo]For some, reuniting with families is still worth the risk.
This week at Beijing Railway Station, Wang, a 64-year-old construction worker who preferred to only share his family name, rushed back to his village in eastern Shandong Province before it was locked down.
“There is no other way. We have to go back first. We have a family at home,” he said after arriving at the train station seven hours before leaving the capital.
The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 87,988, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,635. The country reported its first coronavirus death in 10 months on Thursday.