China steps up COVID-19 control to ensure safe holiday
BEIJING - Chinese authorities have stepped up COVID-19 prevention and control measures in the face of the twin challenges of imported outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron strains, to ensure a safe Spring Festival holiday.
With COVID-19 ravaging the world, the risk of imported cases is on the rise. Coupled with the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush, cross-regional travel will increase, resulting in a complex epidemic prevention and control situation, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).
However, the recent COVID-19 resurgence in China has been broadly stabilized, as the country managed to bring the outbreaks in some areas under control in a timely manner, said He Qinghua, an official with the commission, at a press conference.
The Chinese mainland on Saturday reported 65 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 54 new imported cases. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had reached 104,864 by Saturday, said the NHC.
With university students across the country returning home and the Spring Festival travel rush to kick off, transport and education authorities have made corresponding plans in advance.
Transport authorities have prioritized both preventing the spread of the virus through transportation and strengthening their emergency response capabilities, said Zhou Min, an official with the Ministry of Transport.
Measures, such as cutting off inter-provincial and inter-city road passenger transport services in medium- and high-risk areas, ensuring the smooth transportation of emergency supplies and strengthening epidemic prevention management on urban passenger transport, have been taken, Zhou said.
Efforts will be made to maximize transportation capacity and improve emergency response plans to guarantee that all passengers enjoy a safe and smooth journey, said Zhu Wenzhong with the China State Railway Group.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has encouraged airlines to allocate capacity flexibly, make overall arrangements for adding additional flights, and provide refund or rebooking services in accordance with prevention and control requirements, said Han Guangzu with the CAAC.
Wang Dengfeng, an official with the Ministry of Education, called on universities nationwide to effectively implement various measures for epidemic prevention and control and carry out emergency exercises on a regular basis, to ensure that schools are able to activate emergency plans in case of an outbreak.
To date, about 10 provincial-level regions have reported imported cases of the Omicron variant, and local cases have been reported in regions including Beijing, Tianjin and Henan, according to the NHC.
He Qinghua pledged efforts to closely monitor the prevailing trend of COVID-19 variants worldwide, step up research on the transmissibility and pathogenicity of relevant variants and the impact of vaccine immunity, timely analyze the risk of imported transmission, and guide local governments to dynamically adjust epidemic prevention and control measures accordingly.