Beijing Calls For Fewer Vacation Trips To Reduce COVID Risks During Olympics

BEIJING, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Beijing said on Saturday it is advising residents not to leave the city during the holiday season in early 2022, as part of efforts to limit coronavirus risks while the Winter Olympic Games.

China’s capital is willing to “ensure zero local infections, the successful organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and that the public have a joyful and peaceful holiday,” it said in a statement.

In addition to encouraging people not to take unnecessary trips out of town, it will also call for some meetings to take place online, according to the statement.

Wu Shiping, an official with China State Railway Group, said on Saturday that he expects a “relatively large” increase in the number of train passengers during the 40-day travel season for the Lunar New Year holidays from 2021 levels.

In pre-pandemic times, the travel period was often described as the world’s largest annual migration, with hundreds of millions of migrant workers from China returning to their cities of origin.

Liang Wannian, an official with the National Health Commission, said there should be no one-size-fits-all rule in China and local governments should balance the need for people to reunite with their families with controlling COVID-19.

But Beijing and regions with higher virus risks, such as those with cities and border ports, should have stricter rules, he said. Higher-risk groups, such as the elderly, should also avoid unnecessary travel and meetings, Liang added.

The recent COVID-19 case count in China is low compared to many countries, and daily infections tend to be less than 100 locally transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)

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