Asia celebrates Tet in anxiety

The Lunar New Year every year sees the largest migration in the world, but this year’s “Buffalo Tet”, many Asians have to leave plans to reunite amid worries about the Covid-19 epidemic.

A family poses for a photo next to the image of a buffalo in Wuhan City, China on February 10, 2021. Photo: AFP

“This year’s New Year is so special that my mom wants to make sure I get to eat my favorites – these are home-flavored dishes,” said Wang Hui, an employee of an internet company in Beijing.

A few days ago, Wang Hui received many favorites such as homemade dried beef, fried rabbits, spicy tofu, and smoked pork that his mother ordered online after he decided to stay in Beijing, instead for celebrating Tet in his hometown of Chongqing as usual. “In her eyes, I was always starving,” the 27-year-old employee said.

This year’s Lunar New Year in Asia starts from February 12. Every year, this is the occasion to witness the largest annual migration in the world when hundreds of millions of Chinese migrant workers return to their hometowns to celebrate Tet. However, warnings about restricting the movement of the Covid-19 era had extinguished the intention of celebrating Tet in the home country of the Chinese as well as Asia in general.

The Chinese government discourages people from traveling during the Lunar New Year holiday after noting the recent Covid-19 outbreaks, although the country has had previous experiences and successes in stopping Covid- 19 outbreaks on the Lunar New Year 2019.

In Hong Kong, the Lunar New Year fairs – which sell foods and decorations for the New Year – have been narrowed down in epidemic proportions. By the early afternoon of February 11 (30 Tet), only a few people came to buy flowers at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and across the Mong Kok port. Causeway Bay and Mong Kok are Hong Kong’s two busiest shopping districts; Here, crowd control and body temperature check are also required.

“Next year (2021) I hope everything will be better,” said Peter Luk, a 63-year-old retired official, as he went shopping in Victoria Park on February 11. “We should sell everything, from food, toys and flowers, everything,” said Luk.

But for 26-year-old legal expert Clare Zhou, the experience of shrinking shopping and fair spaces is exciting. “It’s great, it’s very peaceful,” said Clare Zhou.

Hong Kong has so far recorded about 10,700 infections and 188 Covid-19 deaths since January 2020. This special district of 7.5 million people is expected to start vaccination against Covid-19 by the end of this month. Hong Kong plans to relax some of the epidemic restrictions from February 18, allowing the reopening of entertainment and sports venues. In addition, it will extend the opening times of food service to 10pm, instead of 6pm as currently.

In Southeast Asia, the Lunar New Year in Indonesia is also covered with “dark clouds” Covid-19. As noted by resident correspondent of Turkish state news agency Anadolu Agency, Chinese Indonesians celebrate the Lunar New Year as the Southeast Asian nation is still grappling with Covid-19 and its measures. epidemic prevention is still tightened.

All traditional ceremonies and commemorative activities in Indonesia are put on hold, and residents are advised to stay home for Tet. In addition to taking many restrictions, the Boen Tek Bio Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city of Tangerang, Indonesia decided to skip some traditional rituals.

Mr. Ruby Santamoko, Management Secretary of Boen Tek Bio Temple, said that only 10% of the 7,000 members who regularly perform at the temple will attend the ceremonies this year. The manager of Boen Tek Bio Temple urges people to pray at home and avoid crowds of people during the New Year.

“Those who come to the temple have to follow strict procedures to protect their health. We will only arrange a group of 30 in the central shrine area,” said Mr. Ruby Santamoko. “We hope the elderly and children take our advice and stay home this year,” added temple manager Boen Tek Bio.

Health experts in Indonesia believe that the restriction on Lunar New Year festivals affirms the importance of the fight against Covid-19 in this country. Ede Surya Darmawan, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Community Health Professionals, said that the more people who eat Tet at home will help reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection, a worrying development that often occurs after the big holidays.

Previously, Indonesia recorded a spike in Covid-19 cases following major holidays such as Muslim Eid Festival, National Day, Christmas, and New Year’s holiday.

“Be a wise and intelligent society to learn from the past; at the same time dare to call on everyone to stay home for the Lunar New Year this year, so there will not be a sudden increase in the number of Covid-19 cases”, Darmawan expert recommended.

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