The COVID-19 outbreak in Fujian province, which has reported 152 local cases in five days, has spurred cities across China to issue travel advisories ahead of critical holidays. However, official media advise against imposing blanket travel restrictions.
The travel advisories come ahead of the National Day holiday, which begins on Oct. 1 and lasts for a week, as well as a shorter Mid-Autumn Festival holiday the following week.
The most recent outbreak, which saw stringent mobility restrictions in several locations, impacted the tourism, hospitality, and transportation industries and hindered retail sales growth dramatically.
Although all new local cases in China since September 10 have been reported in southeastern Fujian province, the northeastern city of Jilin and Maoming and Guangzhou in the south have warned residents against taking non-essential journeys beyond their areas. The regions of Shanxi and Heilongjiang have issued similar warnings.
People in the cities of Chifeng and Hohhot in Inner Mongolia's northern autonomous territory have been encouraged to remain put during the holidays, while residents in Shaanxi province have been cautioned to avoid leaving town for unimportant reasons.
Local officials, however, should not carelessly support broad commands to stay put or make such advocacy into a duty, according to a Wednesday editorial in the state tabloid Global Times.
The publication stated, "We need to improve the accurate efficiency of our dynamic zero-case route gradually."
“A complete halt on a large scale should be avoided. Each epidemic must be detected as soon as possible. We must also ensure that we can contain it more quickly so that it causes less harm to society.”
According to Julian Evans-Pritchard, the services sector in China is anticipated to bounce significantly from August, the senior China economist at Capital Economics. Still, measures to curb the Fujian outbreak may interrupt the approaching holidays, a significant period for consumption.
He also warned that because Fujian is a crucial trade hub, there is a potential for new supply chain disruptions.
Risks of Contagion
According to the National Health Commission, 50 new locally transmitted cases were reported on Sept. 14, compared to 59 illnesses the day before. They were all in Fujian.
The overall number of local infections in the three Fujian cities of Putian, Xiamen, and Quanzhou has risen to 152.
Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 10, about 30,000 people traveled from Putian to neighboring provinces, according to state media, citing health officials' estimations, raising fears of infection.
Due to the mobility of people and products, Zeng Shidian, head of the Disease Control and Prevention Centre in Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province north of Fujian, was quoted in local media as saying that there is a "high" probability of the city seeing some imported cases from Putian and other regions of Fujian.
Wenzhou residents are being advised not to travel to Fujian for the holidays. The city announced on Tuesday that indoor entertainment venues would be closed for a month.
As of September 14, mainland China had confirmed 95,413 cases.