Chinese New Year: Clamping down on going home for the holidays

Today marks the start of the world's largest human migration - an event which sees millions of people travel thousands of miles across China to reach home in time for the Lunar New Year

For some, it is the only time they will see their families all year and is an event not to be missed.

But there are fears the Spring Festival travel season, or Chunyun in Chinese, could become a superspreader event. After all, last year's Chunyun is believed to have played a significant role in the spread of Covid-19.

So the Chinese authorities have been left with a problem: how do you encourage people to stay local, without actually cancelling the country's biggest annual celebration?

This year's Chunyun begins on 28 January and will last until 8 March, giving people time to travel potentially thousands of miles across China in time for New Year, on 12 February, and back again.

In a normal year, China sees around three billion trips during the Chunyun period.

But last year, as the virus began to gain momentum and the government introduced travel restrictions, figures from the Ministry of Transport show the number of trips fell by more than half.

This year, with life almost back to normal across large swathes of the country, the number of trips made is expected to increase to 1.7bn, officials said.

In preparation for this, Beijing unveiled plans to vaccinate 50m people - or 3.5% of the population - before travel began in earnest.