The Chinese Spring Festival marks the beginning of a new year in the lunar calendar. It is known as China’s most celebrated holiday and a time for family reunification. The annual peak in travel associated with the lunar new year is the ultimate stress test for China’s transportation system. During chunyun (春运), translated as Spring Festival Transportation, up to 3 billion domestic as well as international trips are made every year within a period of about 40 days. This far exceeds the 116 million Americans traveling during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday in 2019, for example. With passenger volumes rising annually, chunyun is holding on to its title as the world’s most extensive human migration. This year’s Chinese Spring Festival Travel Rush, however, coincided with a particular challenge as it came at a time when China faced a major public health crisis with severe societal ramifications, namely the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which is thought to have originated in Wuhan, a hub in China’s transport and logistics network, and which reached pandemic proportions only weeks later.
(Measuring temperature in a metro station in Beijing to prevent the virus from spreading; Copyright: Graeme Nicol/shutterstock/1646049781)
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Author: Marie Peters