China Cancels Hundreds of Flights, Closed Schools, Start Mass Testing Amid New Covid-19 Outbreak

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The Authorities in China on Thursday canceled hundreds of flights, closed schools, and start a mass testing drive amid the fear of a new Covid-19 outbreak linked to a group of tourists.

Notably, Beijing has maintained a relentless zero-Covid approach with strict border closures and targeted lockdowns, even as other countries tentatively try to ease restrictions.

Domestic outbreaks have largely been eliminated, but as China logged a fifth straight day of new cases– substantially in northern and northwestern areas– authorities beefed up coronavirus controls.

The rearmost outbreak was linked to an old couple who were in a group of several tourists. They started in Shanghai before flying to Xi’an, Gansu province, and Inner Mongolia.

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Xi'an City China
Xi’an City China

Dozens of cases have since been linked to their journey, with close connections in at least five provinces and regions, including the capital Beijing.

In response, local governments have rolled out mass testing and closed scenic spots and tourist spots, schools, and entertainment venues in affected areas, and also imposed targeted lockdowns of housing composites.

Some regions including Lanzhou– a city of some four million people in northwestern China– have told residents not to leave unless necessary.

Those who need to leave must present a negative Covid-19 test.

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Airports in the affected regions have canceled hundreds of flights, according to data from aviation tracker VariFlight. More than 60 percent of flights to the two main airports in Xi’an and Lanzhou have been canceled.

In a notice published Monday, Erenhot in Inner Mongolia said to travel in and out of the city was banned and residers shouldn’t leave their housing compounds.

And on Wednesday, state-owned tabloid Global Times advised that the new virus cases in Inner Mongolia were likely to affect coal imports from Mongolia because of supply chain disruptions.

It’s worth mentioning here that there were 13 new domestic cases reported on Thursday, China’s National Health Commission said.

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