Spring Festival does not bring spike of COVID cases as expected
China Daily

Xiao Chongjie, deputy head of Lianshan Township Central Hospital, talks with the only COVID-19 patient at the hospital in Lianshan town, Guanghan city, Sichuan province, during 2023 Spring Festival. LIU LANYING/FOR CHINA DAILY

The weeklong Spring Festival holiday, which officially ended on Jan 27, hasn't caused a spike of COVID-19 cases in rural areas as expected, and the spread there has declined to become "low level", a senior agricultural official said Friday.

Based on data reported by local authorities, the new infections in the countryside are dropping steadily despite increased gatherings and the typical mass migrations during the Chinese New Year celebrations, said Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group and a senior Party official at the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs.

While speaking at a meeting in Beijing, held by a special commission on controlling the spread of COVID in rural areas, he urged local authorities to step up the monitoring of "left-behind" old adults and young children, as well as nursing home residents who reside in the countryside during the wake of Chinese New Year festivities, as their younger relatives left to go back to cities for jobs.

Wu said efforts must be made to ensure such groups have adequate support and monitoring and "incidents which test the social morals' bottom line" do not happen.

He also called for more monitoring for communities residing far-flung regions, such as isolated forestry, grassland and mountain areas, and small islands.

Wu said that tasks such as COVID control and making up for the thinly-resourced rural healthcare system will be advanced as part of China's sweeping campaign to vitalize rural regions.

He added that local authorities must make sure that the pandemic does not affect spring planting, which will begin around March in China, and step up grainfield management to bolster food supply and stabilize food price.