The number of journeys taken over China's three-day Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday tumbled by nearly two-thirds from last year, state media said, citing data from the transport ministry, as authorities battle outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country.

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The decline was worse than expected and comes as analysts warn that the economic cost of keeping infections to a minimum is likely to soar, with sectors like tourism bearing the biggest brunt.

Total trips - including rail, air, waterway and road - reached an estimated 53.78 million over the three-day period beginning on Apr 3, down 63 per cent, the official Economic Daily reported late on Tuesday (Apr 5).

The figure was also about 10 per cent lower than 2020 when parts of China were still recovering from the first coronavirus outbreak that began in central China's Wuhan.

Air travel was the worst hit, with the total number of flights falling to an estimated 562,000, down 87 per cent from a year ago and 54 per cent down in 2020. Road journeys fell 53 per cent on the year and were also slightly lower than 2020.

China's transport ministry had said on Sunday that it expected road traffic to drop 20 per cent and flights to fall 55 per cent during the three-day holiday.