China Further Cuts Off Access As It Blocks Flights

( To address the current global surge in Omicron cases, Beijing has begun suspending international travel into China.

China dramatically cut back on international arrivals during the pandemic, but the number of infected travelers arriving in Shanghai during the first ten days of January exceeded the total number for the entire month of December.

On Friday, China announced that 30 inbound international flights from several countries have been suspended due to COVID cases, including four more flights from the United States. On Wednesday, six flights from the US were suspended.

China has now canceled 74 flights from the United States.

Last week, Hong Kong, a central transport hub, announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries including the UK and the United States.

Before the latest cancellations, three US airlines and four Chinese carriers operated about 20 flights a week between the countries. Before the pandemic, there were over one hundred flights a week.

Cities across China have become hyper-vigilant about COVID ahead of the Lunar New Year travel season later this month and as Beijing prepares for the Winter Olympics in early February.

The flight cancelations will not impact Olympic athletes and other personnel as they will be arriving on special charter flights. Upon their arrival, they will immediately enter a strictly-enforced “closed loop” that separates them from the general population.

On January 13, China reported a total of 143 confirmed cases of COVID. Most of the new cases were found in the central province of Henan, where both the Omicron and Delta variants have been detected.

China’s caseload remains low compared to outbreaks elsewhere, however, whether their reported numbers are true is anybody’s guess.

As part of its “zero COVID” policy, local outbreaks of COVID are to be stamped out as quickly as possible, leading some local governments to isolate both the infected and their close contacts.

This week, hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Yuzhou in Henan were quarantined in makeshift facilities.