On a crowded train, Wang Chunfeng feels blissful. He is one of the millions of people in China who seeks to make up for lost time and travels to celebrate this Lunar New Year, after years in which the restrictions of the pandemic forced many to be separated from their family.
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China This Saturday celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit, which marks the beginning of the “Spring Festival” and which is the biggest holiday that brings families together, as is Christmas in the Christian world.
With the lifting of strict health controls, travelers crowded into the station in Shanghai to board the train and make the journey to the city of Wuhan, a megapolis in the center of China where the first cases of covid-19 were registered in 2019.
“Tomorrow we have a big family reunion”said Wang, a 40-year-old factory owner, speaking emotionally.
Wang explained that before the restrictions were lifted, traveling would have caused him problems at the school where his children study.
“It’s the first time in three years that we’re all going to be together,” added.
The end of the zero covid policy has implied a return to an almost normal life in Chinadespite the fact that cases have skyrocketed throughout the country.
the chinese leader Xi Jinping He said this week he is “concerned” about the virus situation in rural areas, at a time when millions of people are traveling from heavily infected cities to the countryside, where the medical infrastructure is understaffed and under-resourced. .
But on the train many people were celebrating.
“We can’t wait to see our parents”, said Li, a 35-year-old woman traveling with her husband and son, who plans to surprise her relatives.
“To make sure I had tickets, I set my alarm clock for five in the morning for a week”said.
Her husband explained that getting a ticket was “much more difficult than last year.”
The couple, who run a restaurant near Shanghai, were forced to make the six-hour journey separately. Both reported that their relatives were recently infected with COVID-19, but have already recovered.
New policies and old customs
After the virus was detected in Wuhan, the 11 million inhabitants of this city spent the 2020 Lunar New Year in lockdown, a restriction that kept them cut off from the rest of the world for 76 days.
In the years that followed, the restrictions changed from one day to the next, and to travel within China a multitude of tests were imposed that made any displacement difficult.
But, since the government suddenly announced a relaxation of the zero covid policy in December, internal travel in China they have multiplied.
All the travelers interviewed by AFP inside the train said they had contracted the virus and subsequently recovered.
But there are old customs that remain and one of the travelers made the trip in a protective suit and others decided to use face shields.
An employee disinfected the floor several times and announcements were repeated over the loudspeakers reminding them that the epidemic has not ended.
For Tang Shufeng, this reminder is not necessary, as he told AFP that his grandfather recently died due to the virus.
This 34-year-old man, who works for a company in the naval sector, said that he is going to take advantage of the holiday to visit his grandmother, who lives 50 kilometers from Wuhan.
“My grandmother is not well at all due to the covid”, He said, confessing that he is “very worried.”
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.