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2021-10-25 09:48:40

Five Chinese province-level regions are on alert amid a cluster of COVID-19 cases, as the city at the epicenter says it seeks to test all tourists. Over the past three days, five cities in northwestern Gansu province have reported 40 infections, of which 30 were discovered in the provincial capital Lanzhou. Authorities attributed the outbreak to the Delta variant.

The Gansu provincial government carried out mass tests after two members of a Shanghai tourist group tested positive for the virus on October 17 in the historic city of Xi’an in neighboring Shaanxi province.

On Sunday, local authorities in Lanzhou said that the city would shut down all tourist attractions starting the following day and requested that all tourists stay where they until receiving two negative COVID tests over two days. The suspended national tourism destinations include Dunhuang’s Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Meanwhile, large-scale gatherings such as banquets are prohibited, to help contain the spread of infections. Despite the recent restrictions, local residents in Lanzhou have reported that their lives mostly continue as usual.

“Things have remained normal, with people continuing to frequent restaurants and shopping malls,” a restaurant owner in Lanzhou told Sixth Tone.

At least four other regions suspended cross-provincial tour groups the same day, including Beijing, Guizhou, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

As of October 25, two locations — in Beijing’s Changping District and Inner Mongolia — are classified as high-risk areas and 14 as medium risk. People who have been to these areas in the past two weeks may be asked to quarantine or be refused entry into public places when traveling elsewhere.

China’s central government announced Sunday plans to provide vaccine booster shots in response to recent outbreaks, and issued specific instructions on who can get them.

Wu Liangyou, deputy director of the National Health Commission for Disease Control, told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, that anyone who is 18 years or older and who received a Chinese-developed vaccine at least six months ago is eligible for a one-dose booster shot.

Editor: David Cohen.

(Header image: Locals receive COVID-19 test in Ganzhou District, Zhangye, Gansu province, Oct. 23, 2021. People Visual)