Shanghai canceled more than 500 flights and closed schools

Shanghai canceled more than 500 flights, closed schools, and suspended COVID-19 hospital services.

Shanghai, China, has canceled more than 500 flights and closed several residential areas for more than three COVID-19 cases.

Twenty hospitals have also suspended outpatient and emergency services for three days.

The comprehensive response is part of China's strict zero-tolerance policy on coronavirus.

Shanghai, China's financial hub, canceled hundreds of flights, closed schools, and suspended tourism programs on Friday after three local COVID-19 cases emerged in the city.

 The three positive cases were of friends from the nearby city of Suzhou who attended a lecture on ancient architecture last week. According to the statement, they were in close contact with nearly 200 people, which prompted 20 hospitals to suspend outpatient and emergency services for three days out of caution.

Authorities also said the three travelers had been fully vaccinated.

The restrictions are part of Beijing's COVID-zero policy: China's attempt to completely eradicate any trace of the coronavirus within its borders through rapid lockdowns and restrictions.

About 30% of flights from two of Shanghai's major airports were canceled after the infections were discovered on Thursday, according to local media, Jiemian News.

The Guardian has estimated that more than 500 flights have been canceled, citing data from flight-tracking website VariFlight.

Shanghai authorities have also asked travel agencies to suspend all city tours or travel programs to other provinces, local outlet Yikai Global reported.

Reuters reported that the city has a population of 24.9 million and has also closed down several apartment complexes believed to be at high risk of infection.

"China has experience in epidemic prevention in the 'dynamic COVID-Zero,' so our strategy will not change," Zhang Wenhong, head of the epidemic prevention team in Shanghai, said at a briefing Thursday.

"In the future, this will become a normal scene for epidemic prevention in the fall and winter. Similar situations will happen in the future," Zhang said, adding that the city's focus now is to reduce the disruption of its epidemic response to residents' lives.

The last time Shanghai detected a locally transmitted case of COVID-19 was when the city's Disneyland closed after the Halloween night case was discovered. More than 30,000 visitors were trapped in the park and took a COVID test before they were allowed to leave.

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