Chinese youngsters self-infect with Covid to secure holiday plans

Coronavirus: UK to impose screening on travellers from China

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Young Chinese people are trying to self-infect with COVID-19 to avoid cancelling travel plans as the country begins to reopen. While some are still worried for elderly people catching the virus, others are trying to self-infect to avoid changing travel plans.

Speaking to the BBC, a 27-year-old in Shanghai said he caught the virus on purpose “because I don’t want to change my holiday plan”.

He added: “And I could make sure I recovered and won’t be infected again during the holiday if I intentionally control the time I get infected.”

Another Shanghai resident, a 26-year-old woman, also told the BBC she visited a Covid-positive friend “so I could get Covid as well”.

She added: “I thought it would be like getting a cold but it was much more painful.”

The Transportation Ministry on Friday called on travellers to reduce trips and gatherings, particularly if they involve elderly people, pregnant women, small children and those with underlying conditions.

People using public transport are also urged to wear masks and pay special attention to their health and personal hygiene, Vice Minister Xu Chengguang told reporters at a briefing.

The call stopped short of asking citizens to stay home entirely, as the government had since the pandemic began, although some local governments have urged migrant workers not to return home.

Xu said authorities expect more than 2 billion trips to be made during the weeklong festival season, the most important time for visiting family and friends in the traditional Chinese calendar.

That is nearly double the number of last year and 70.3 percent over the same period in 2019 before the pandemic hit, Xu said.

Demand for family visits and tourism has “accumulated over the past three years of the pandemic to be met all at once,“ Xu said.

“We encourage people to make travel plans based on the situation of themselves and their family members,” he said.

China abruptly ended a strict regime of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing in December amid growing concerns about the economic impact and rare public protests in a country that permits no open political dissent.

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China on Sunday is also ending mandatory quarantines for people arriving from abroad.

The current outbreak appears to have spread the fastest in densely populated cities, putting a strain on the health care system. Authorities are now concerned about the possible spread to smaller towns and rural areas that lack resources such as ICU beds.

Overseas, a growing number of governments are requiring virus tests for travellers from China, saying they are needed because the Chinese government is not sharing enough information on the outbreak, particularly about the potential emergence of new variants.

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