The top Internet censor in China has issued a warning that during the Chinese New Year, it will crack down on "fake information" that propagates unfavorable opinions regarding COVID-19 infections.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) issued the warning two months after Beijing abruptly decided to eliminate practically all of its zero-COVID rules, leading to a spike in infections that severely strained the healthcare system.

The CAC stated that "investigate and deal with fabrications about the trend of the epidemic and the latest prevention policies, fake antivirus secret recipes and patient experiences etc to prevent the public from being misled and causing social panic."

This year's campaign will focus on "in-depth rectification of false information... to prevent the spread of gloomy emotions," according to the regulator.

The warning comes as hundreds of millions of people return to their hometowns for Chinese New Year, raising fears that the huge migration would result in another wave of COVID-19 infections.

Over the past two months, China's Internet has been inundated with complaints about overcrowded hospitals and overworked medical staff, as well as reports of far higher than typical activity at crematoriums. Additionally, online users reported being unable to obtain vital drugs.

The CAC announced that it will also vigorously combat "deliberate online attempts" to stoke racial animosity, foment fear, and exaggerate "the dark side of society."

The Chinese Internet censor also declared that it would closely monitor online reviews of the new year gala, a program that combines entertainment with propaganda about important national policies.

While the gala is set to retain its position as the world's most-watched variety program, with hundreds of millions of Chinese tuning in both at home and abroad, it has been losing appeal to the younger generation and has faced rising criticism, and even mocking, online.

The CAC also stated that it will target online fan circles, or fan quan - informal virtual communities centered on an idol - in order to discourage fans of celebrities, particularly those performing at the New Year's Eve gala, from trolling others.

Since 2021, the Internet watchdog has made online fan clubs a top priority since its members frequently promote their favorite celebrities by harassing and doxxing competing fandoms. Parents have also expressed concern that the groups are pressuring their kids to give money to their idols.

The CAC also declared that it will target fabricated sob tales created to solicit funds.

Chinese New Year is typically a time when individuals settle bills and wrap up the previous year's business. However, some online con artists have been known to create personal tales, such as business bankruptcies, in order to con unsuspecting donors out of their money.