China celebrates first Lunar New Year after COVID restrictions eased

People in China are flocking to temples, parks and other sightseeing spots across the country, as the week-long Lunar New Year holidays have begun.

This year's holiday comes after the Chinese government ended its severe coronavirus restrictions earlier in January.

Events marked New Year's day, which fell on Sunday this year.

The Yonghe Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in the capital Beijing, was crowded with families and visitors. Worshippers lined up on Sunday morning to offer prayers.

A mother who came from Beijing with her daughter said she was happy to observe the traditional practice for the New Year.

However, many people are concerned about the possible spread of coronavirus infections in rural areas, as urban workers travel back to their hometowns for the holidays.

The Chinese government estimates people will make 2.1 billion passenger trips during the 40-day period before and after the holidays.

On Wednesday, President Xi Jinping instructed senior officials to reinforce medical systems seen as vulnerable to the virus. He said he was most worried about farmers and other people in rural areas.