By ACC Delen
“Kung Hei Fa Tsai!” is how many of our Chinese Filipino compatriots greet one another in the Philippines. Here in the mainland, we are more likely to hear “Xin Nian Kuai Le!” Both Chinese greetings mean “Happy New Year!” and with the Spring Festival just around the corner, we are sure to be hearing the latter and saying it back to our friends and acquaintances…hopefully with the correct tones and pronunciation.
The Spring Festival, also referred to as Chinese New Year in the mainland is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese Calendar. It is that time of each year when hordes of people travel to their hometowns to celebrate the new year with their families back home. We are not talking about just hundreds or even thousands of people but millions of travelers that empty out major cities as they head out to the countryside. Such is the number that weeks before New Year’s Eve, train tickets are already sold out.
In previous years, photos of jampacked trains and very crowded railway stations could be seen on the news or the many social networking sites that abound in China. But this year, something very different is expected even as China tightens its anti-epidemic measures in anticipation of the festival. Already, there is a call for locals not to travel to their hometowns during this period and to stay where they currently live and work in order to reduce the number of people traveling. This is not an easy thing to ask for, especially from migrant workers who in normal times only get to visit their families on this occasion. However, it would nevertheless be strictly implemented as had many previous policies designed to prevent CoVid-19 transmissions.
Was it just really last year when the whole city of Wuhan was locked down and isolated from the rest of the country? To many, including myself, it all just seem to have happened yesterday. But, it wasn’t just yesterday. It was already 12 months ago and so many things have happened since then. So numerous in fact that I couldn’t even remember half of it. China hasn’t forgotten. With the country in the middle of winter which is the season for flu and other respiratory diseases, the government is not taking anything for granted. As of Saturday, Wuhan advised people returning to the city, regardless of the classification of the area they are coming from, (high, medium, or low risk areas) of the need for a seven-day valid negative test results before they are allowed into Wuhan. On top of that, temperature checks as well as health codes are required.
On the other side of the country, Sichuan province also rolled out a similar set of requirements aimed at travelers entering the area. The same goes for other cities. More stringent measures are in place for regions that are considered medium to high risk areas. For instance, a city in Hebei Province that reported 83 confirmed cases and over a hundred asymptomatic cases in a matter of days announced last Sunday that they are entering “wartime” mode. This is based on news being circulated on Wechat, one of China’s most popular networking applications. What “war time mode” exactly means isn’t very clear but it did entail the temporary closure of railway stations and the cancellation of over 50% of inbound and outbound flights, not to mention the citywide nucleic acid testing that yielded 2 million samples as of news time.
What’s my point you ask? Learning from history is only as powerful as the application of said learning.