The eastern Chinese financial hub of Shanghai suspended some tourism activities on Friday as part of its efforts to head off a handful of sporadic new local transmissions, while it also faces an increase in COVID-19 infections from overseas.
Shanghai's tourism and culture authority said travel agencies and online tourism companies must once again halt organising group tours between Shanghai and other provinces, regions or municipalities, after the city reported five new domestically transmitted infections on Thursday, all linked to a previous arrival from overseas.
The order, in line with a national guideline to cut tourist activities in provincial divisions where new infections have emerged, came less than a month after Shanghai lifted a previous suspension that had come into effect in November, according to local government statements and a report by a newspaper managed by China's tourism authority.
The risk of the virus entering from overseas has increased in Shanghai, with new imported cases during the first 10 days of this month already exceeding December's total, according to Reuters calculations. It is unclear how many were caused by the Omicron variant.
When international travellers complete a 14-day quarantine and enter local communities for an extra week of "health monitoring", they should avoid unnecessary trips from home, and must not take public transport, visit crowded indoor places such as restaurants and supermarkets, or even take a walk in their own residential compounds, a local official said during a news conference late on Thursday.
There were further signs that Shanghai, one of China's most populous cities, was raising its COVID-19-related vigilance ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday travel peak later this month.
Those arriving in Shanghai from other low virus-risk parts of China should reduce gatherings in the first week of arrival, and residents are advised not to leave town unnecessarily during the Lunar New Year holiday, a local disease control expert during the same news conference.
China reported a total of 143 local confirmed cases, and four domestically transmitted asymptomatic carriers for Jan. 13.
There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
As of Jan. 13, mainland China had 104,580 confirmed symptomatic cases, including both local ones and those arriving from overseas. (Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Ella Cao and David Stanway; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Kim Coghill)