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Millions of workers in China's major cities are on the road today ahead of the Lunar New Year, amid efforts by Chinese leaders to boost the country's economy, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. 

Last month, authorities in China eased some of the strict measures against the spread of the coronavirus that had been in place for three years.

Thus, without fear of being penalized, Chinese citizens filled the country's railway stations and airports on their way to their hometowns, in smaller cities and in rural areas of China.

However, this raises serious concerns that the mass gathering of people may lead to an increase in cases of infection with Covid-19, notes Reuters. 

China's holiday season, known as the Spring Festival, is the only time of the year for many Chinese workers to return to their hometowns, the Associated Press noted.

The Chinese government expects 2.1 billion trips to be made during the 40-day Lunar New Year holiday period that falls on Sunday, January 22.

Economists and analysts are closely watching the holiday season for signs that consumer demand in the world's second-largest economy is recovering after China's latest gross domestic product (GDP) data on Tuesday confirmed expectations of a sharp slowdown in the country's economy . 

A possible prolonged slowdown in China's economic growth could deepen the political challenges facing Chinese President Xi Jinping.  

Xi Jinping called for concrete actions to protect the safety and health of the people of China

Tensions among the country's younger people have not yet subsided after they protested en masse in the streets of major Chinese cities in November against the policy of strict restrictions against the spread of Covid-19 introduced by Xi Jinping, notes Reuters, quoted by BTA . 

While some analysts expect the recovery of the country's economy to be slow, Chinese Vice President Liu He announced yesterday during the World Economic Forum in Davos that "China is open to the world after three years of isolation due to the pandemic."

Representatives of the National Immigration Administration in Beijing reported that an average of 500,000 people a day were leaving China or arriving in the country after it effectively opened its borders on January 8, Chinese state media reported, cited by Reuters.