Thousands of Chinese tourists have been left stranded in Tibet as the region grapples with a sudden surge in coronavirus cases, leading several provinces in China to impose travel restrictions on individuals arriving from the area.
Here are the key highlights of the situation:
Local authorities in Tibet have reported that more than 4,000 tourists are currently unable to leave the region due to the ongoing outbreak. The outbreak in the southwest province has spread to various provinces across China, including Shanghai, contributing to the country’s recent three-month high in COVID-19 cases.
According to the National Health Commission of China, Tibet has recorded 550 new cases, slightly higher than the previous day’s count of 549.
A spokesperson for the Tibetan government revealed that nearly 4,500 tourists remained stranded in Tibet as of the past weekend.
Tourists attempting to depart from Tibet are required to provide two negative PCR tests within a three-day period, display a green code on the COVID-19 monitoring app to indicate low-risk status, and furnish a negative rapid antigen test at the airport.
The outbreak in Tibet has reportedly spread to several provinces, including Qinghai, and even as far as Zhejiang province, which borders the financial hub of Shanghai, according to reports from the People’s Daily newspaper.
Multiple provinces, such as Fujian, Hubei, and Hunan, have confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among individuals who recently traveled to Tibet.
Chinese media outlet Caixin disclosed that several COVID-19 cases were detected among individuals who journeyed by train from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to Beijing and Shanghai. The state-owned Tibet Daily emphasized the Tibetan government’s dedication to containing the spread of the pandemic and ensuring an orderly departure process from the region.
To bolster PCR testing efforts, medical personnel from various provinces, including Gansu, Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Shannxi, have been dispatched to Tibet. Additionally, Shunfeng, one of China’s leading courier companies, has arranged nine chartered flights to transport medical supplies to Tibet.
Amid the escalating outbreak, numerous tourists found themselves stranded on a highway in the province after a neighboring region imposed restrictions on entry from Tibet.
Authorities in Deqin County, situated in Yunnan province, reported that their quarantine facilities had reached capacity, leading to a significant number of individuals being stuck on the highway heading towards the border.
Videos on social media captured officials distributing food and water to stranded individuals in their vehicles, while some set up tents and prepared meals along the roadside.
Certain stranded individuals recounted being stranded on the G214 highway for several days before being directed to quarantine facilities for further isolation and testing.
The recent outbreak in Tibet originated on August 7 when four tourists tested positive for the virus in Ngari prefecture. Subsequently, cases surged in key tourist destinations like Lhasa, Shigatse, Nyingchi, and Shannan.
In response, local authorities temporarily closed the renowned Potala Palace, a significant tourist attraction in the region.
As China grapples with a three-month high in COVID-19 cases, the country has implemented stringent measures, including lockdowns and quarantine protocols, to contain the virus’s spread.
Recent incidents in Shanghai and Hainan, where lockdowns and quarantine measures were enforced due to escalating cases, underscore the nation’s commitment to its COVID-zero strategy.
Despite the significant challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, China remains resolute in its efforts to implement strict measures to curb the virus’s spread and safeguard the well-being of its citizens and tourists.