Chinese authorities have closed Tibet’s famous Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in the Himalayan region.
The action underscores China’s continued adherence to its “zero-Covid” policy, which mandates lockdowns, regular testing, quarantine and travel restrictions, while most other countries have reopened.
A notice on the palace’s Wexin social media site said the palace, the traditional home of Tibet’s Buddhist leaders, would be closed from Tuesday, with a later reopening date to be announced.
The economy of Tibet largely depends on tourism, and Potala is an important attraction. China says its hard-line policy has successfully prevented large-scale hospitalizations and deaths. In contrast, critics, including the World Health Organization, have decried its impact on the economy and society and said it is out of step with the changing nature of the virus and new methods of prevention and treatment.
China announced 828 new cases of domestic transmission on Tuesday, 22 of them in Tibet. The majority of those cases showed no symptoms.
Meanwhile, more than 80,000 travellers remain stranded on the southern resort island of Hainan under requirements that they consistently test negative for the virus in the coming days before being allowed to leave.