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China reimposes restrictions on overseas travel amid crackdown to control jump in Covid cases

China reimposes restrictions on overseas travel amid crackdown to control jump in Covid cases

Chinese officials have announced new restrictions on overseas travel, restricting the issuing of passports and other documents except in “non-essential” circumstances, as the state tries to curb rising Covid cases.

The announcement from China’s immigration authority on Wednesday comes amid increasingly tightened domestic restrictions across the country. Renewed efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19 come after the country recorded its highest number of new daily infections in months.

“Non-emergency and non-essential” overseas travel will be restricted, with officials halting the issuing of passports or exit documents, the National Immigration Administration’s Liu Haitao stated at a press briefing.

On Wednesday, China recorded 71 domestic Covid cases – the highest number since January. Officials in a number of cities have implemented mass testing and enforced local lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly. Chinese officials said they traced the outbreak back to passengers on a flight from Moscow that then spread to cleaners in Nanjing and into the local community.

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With around 500 domestic Covid cases total having been reported in China since mid-July, a range of domestic restrictions have been reintroduced in some areas, including closing transport hubs and issuing stay-at-home orders to prevent a widespread outbreak that could threaten to overwhelm medical facilities.

As restrictions were imposed, China Railway began offering full refunds for any tickets purchased prior to August 4 to help discourage mobility, telling those who must travel to take proper anti-virus precautions. Similarly, China’s civil aviation authority has demanded that domestic airlines provide complete refunds for any flights between Wednesday and the end of the month to “cope with the COVID-19 prevention and control measures.” Would-be passengers who decide not to travel can avail of the refund at any point before the plane takes off, according to the agency.

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