Flights cancelled, schools closed three COVID-19 cases in Shanghai

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Hundreds of flights were cancelled, some schools were closed and tour groups were suspended on Friday after three coronavirus cases were reported in Shanghai as China continues its strict zero-COVID policy.

Beijing has largely managed to contain the spread of the coronavirus within its borders through travel restrictions and rapid lockdowns, but frequent domestic flare-ups have put its no-tolerance strategy to the test in recent months.

The three positive cases are friends who traveled together to the nearby city of Suzhou last week, Shanghai health authorities said at a news conference Thursday evening, adding that they had all been fully vaccinated.

More than 500 flights from Shanghai’s two major airports were canceled on Friday, according to data from flight tracker VariFlight.

The government of Shanghai also ordered that all inter-provincial package tours involving the city – a major commercial and tourism hub – be canceled.

Six hospitals in Shanghai have also suspended outpatient services.

“China has a lot of experience with ‘dynamic zero COVID,’ so our strategy will not change,” Zhang Wenhong, head of the Shanghai COVID prevention expert task force, said at a briefing on Thursday.

He warned that in the future this could become a “normalized anti-epidemic situation that we may encounter again”.

About 100 kilometers away, Suzhou – with a population of some 13 million people – closed tourist attractions and forced residents to provide negative test results to leave the city.

Beijing authorities are on high alert for possible outbreaks ahead of the February Winter Olympics, which will see an influx of foreign athletes, media and officials.

All schools were closed in the small satellite city of Xuzhou, which also prevented its two million residents from leaving the city on bus services after a close contact with a patient from Shanghai was found there.

A university campus in neighboring Hangzhou was shut down after it was discovered an employee was in close contact with a confirmed case, state media reported.

With leadership determined to host a COVID-free Olympics, Beijing’s Olympic Park has already been shut down as part of the event’s “closed-loop” bubble, state media reported.

Flights cancelled, schools closed as China fights virus outbreak

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