The latest round of Covid-19 outbreak in southeastern China's Fujian province, with a total of 75 locally transmitted cases having been detected in Putian and neighboring Quanzhou and Xiamen by Monday (Sep 13) afternoon since Friday, has once again rung the alarm bell for the country's pandemic prevention and control work.
The approaching Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sep 21, and the National Day Golden Week holiday that starts on Oct 1, make the task even more challenging as the holidays are likely to see a marked increase in the number of people hitting the road.
The government now faces the pressing task of making the best use of the peak-travel season to reinvigorate the tourism sector, which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, while at the same time ensuring that the novel coronavirus is confined to the few high-risk areas in the country, including Putian.
People's enthusiasm for travel remains high. There is undoubtedly a great deal of pent-up demand for travel. Given that China has largely contained the spread of the virus, with only sporadic locally transmitted cases reported as a result of its effective prevention and control measures, inter-province travel is set to bounce back.
Popular travel booking platform Ctrip said that its inter-province orders surged by more than four times on Sep 6 compared with Aug 20.
While the upcoming holiday travel season is an opportunity that the tourism sector will be hoping to make the most of, it will also serve as a touchstone for the governance capabilities of officials, who must balance economic recovery with pandemic prevention and control work.
The country recently announced that it had administered 2.11 billion doses of vaccines, with around 1 billion people, or 78% of its total population, fully vaccinated.
Allowing the tourism sector to fully reopen does not mean any let-up in vigilance against the virus. Rather it sets even higher requirements on officials and enterprises in the tourism sector. Meticulous efforts are needed to ensure the early risk alert system functions effectively, ticket reservation and crowd flow restrictions are in place and observed, as well as close coordination among the transport and public security authorities, among other measures.
China has gained lots of experience in the fight against the pandemic and has shown it is capable of nipping outbreaks in the bud, which instills confidence that the authorities will soon bring the situation in Fujian under control. Nonetheless, everyone must be on high alert to any signs of danger during the holidays.
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