NewsChina suspends more flights as Winter Olympics closes in

China suspends more flights as Winter Olympics closes in

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On Friday, China suspended dozens of international flights due to an increase in Omicron cases around the world, while Shanghai slowed tourist activity in an effort to prevent local COVID-19 infections as imported cases increased.

Cities across China are becoming more vigilant against COVID-19 ahead of the Lunar New Year travel season later this month and as Beijing readies to stage the Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 4, with many local governments urging residents not to leave town unnecessarily.

Shanghai’s tourism and culture authority said travel agencies and online tourism companies must once again halt organising group tours into and out of Shanghai after it reported five new domestically transmitted infections on Thursday, all linked to an arrival from overseas.

The order, in line with a national guideline to cut tourist activities in provinces where new infections have emerged, came less than a month after Shanghai lifted a suspension that had come into effect in November.

China has dramatically cut back on international arrivals during the pandemic, but the number of infected travellers arriving in Shanghai, a major financial hub, during the first 10 days of January, exceeded those for all of December.

China has reported local transmissions of the highly-contagious Omicron variant in the northern city of Tianjin and three other cities but has not said how many Omicron cases it has detected in total.

Authorities, however, have warned that Omicron adds to the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission as more people return to China from overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday.

China on Friday announced that 30 inbound international flights from several countries were suspended due to COVID-19 cases, including four more from the United States. So far this year, China has announced the cancellation of 74 flights from the United States. read more

Athletes and other personnel involved in the Olympics are arriving largely on special charter flights and immediately entering a strictly enforced “closed loop” that separates them from the wider population.

Unlike some other Chinese cities, Shanghai has largely refrained from broader curbs that risk disrupting normal routines and has taken a more surgical approach. This week it raised the “virus risk” level only for a small bubble tea shop where three of the five local infected people worked.

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