China to tighten anti-epidemic measures ahead of Spring Festival

A volunteer checks the body temperatures of residents at public area in Fengtai District of Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

China will take more stringent epidemic prevention and control measures amid higher risks of COVID-19 contagion during this winter-spring period, especially the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

Efforts will be made to stagger travel and encourage online shopping during the holiday. The winter vacation schedule and commencement of the spring semester for schools will also be arranged carefully, said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, at a press conference on Saturday.

Zeng called on people not to return to their hometowns to celebrate the Spring Festival, but stay where they live and work during the holiday to reduce personnel flow.

The Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 12 this year.

The approaching Spring Festival holiday will see more returnees from overseas, gatherings, and imports of cold-chain food and cargo, which will bring more challenges to epidemic prevention and control efforts, Zeng noted.

To curb the epidemic in this winter-spring period, China will expand nucleic acid testing to a larger scale and increase regular testing frequency.

Greater efforts will be made in checks and control over illegal entries into the country, as well as guarding against cross-infection at medical institutions, Zeng added.

Epidemic prevention and control measures against gathering, including banquets, parties, and meetings, as well as visits to scenic spots, will also be beefed up.

Zeng also stressed the necessity of taking self-protection measures, such as washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing.

Speaking of the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in north China's Hebei Province, Zeng voiced confidence in bringing the epidemic under control as soon as possible.

As of Saturday, there were 139 locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases and 197 asymptomatic cases under medical observation in the province.