New Year's Day travel hurt by rise in cases

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The number of trips taken during the three-day New Year's Day holiday dropped because of a recent resurgence of COVID-19, with transport service providers implementing disease control and prevention efforts accordingly.

Nearly 16.6 million passenger trips were taken on the national railway network on Friday and Saturday, the first two days of the travel rush, and an additional of 8.3 million passenger trips were expected to take place on Sunday, China Railway Corp, the national railway operator, said.

It said 34 million passenger trips were expected to occur from Dec 31 to Jan 3, a year-on-year decrease of 6.9 percent. An average of 8.5 million trips were expected to made daily.

Friday marked the peak of the rail travel rush, with 9.89 million passenger trips.

The total number of flights from the capital's two airports, Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport, was down during the travel rush this year, the North China Regional Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said. Beijing Capital expected to handle 2,700 flights during the travel rush, and Beijing Daxing 1,800.

China Railway said rail authorities had implemented strict disease control and prevention measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, including conducting body temperature checks for those entering and leaving train stations, reserving separate seating areas for passengers who feel unwell onboard, disinfecting equipment on trains, carrying out online food ordering and recognizing e-tickets to avoid physical contact. Some train stations have also set a limit on the amount of time passengers are allowed to spend in waiting rooms to avoid large gatherings.

The company has also strengthened monitoring of cargo transportation, especially in cold-chain transport, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Daxing airport also carried out disease control and prevention measures, conducting regular disinfections as well as checks of body temperatures and health codes.

While striving to organize large numbers of passengers and maintain disease control efforts, service providers have worked to facilitate transportation for passengers.

Daxing airport set up counters to help passengers with difficulties provide their health codes to pass checks and register their health status at the same time. Those helped included elderly passengers not familiar with smartphones, passengers who do not have WeChat accounts or mobile phones and international passengers without such codes.

Hohhot Railway Station in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region has a special window for elderly passengers with signs in bigger characters that they can read more easily. It also has a translation machine in the ticket hall that can provide information in Mandarin, English and Mongolian. Bilingual staff members who can speak Mandarin and Mongolian are also on hand to help people buy tickets.

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