Besides the travel rush, another problem facing health authorities is that Spring Festival is also the peak season for poultry sales and consumption.
The Chinese have a long tradition of eating fresh ingredients especially at important feasts and family reunions. Chinese people, especially those in eastern regions, like to buy live chicken and duck and slaughter them at home for freshness and a festival atmosphere. Despite a government ban, live poultry markets are reemerging in some regions.
At an open-air market in Zhejiang, Cai, a local senior, and his wife selected several live birds for the city's speciality, Hangzhou Roast Duck. "Dishes of chicken and duck are a must on New Year's Eve. We can hardly change tradition," said Cai.
"There is no problem after cooking, and the duck and chicken sold here have been quarantined," said Zhu Linying, a housewife at Xianlinyuan market in Hangzhou.
Zhejiang and other provinces are cranking up H7N9 control with more inspections and tougher quarantine measures wherever live birds are sold.
Poultry are easily infected by H7N9, and the risk cannot be contained simply by closing live poultry markets, said Li Lanjuan.
"Some deaths were caused by delays in seeking medical advice, as the virus quickly attacks the lungs," said Li, alerting people to mind their health during the holiday and go to hospital if they have fever or a cough.