China closes tourist spots amid rising cases in Gansu province

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A northwest Chinese province heavily dependent on tourism on Monday closed all tourist sites after discovering new cases of COVID-19.

Gansu Province lies along the ancient Silk Road and is famous for the Dunhuang Grottoes filled with Buddhist images and other religious sites.

The National Health Commission said 35 new cases of local transmission had been detected in the past 24 hours, including four in Gansu.

Another 19 cases have been discovered in the Inner Mongolia region, with others spread across several provinces and cities. Residents of parts of Inner Mongolia have been ordered to stay indoors.

Although it has largely eliminated cases of local infection, China maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards the pandemic, characterized by lockdowns, quarantines and mandatory testing for the virus.

The spread of the delta variant by travelers and tour groups is of particular concern ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February. Foreign spectators are already prohibited and participants will have to stay in a bubble separating them from outside people.

Authorities in the capital said on Sunday that people arriving from recently infected places should show a negative virus test result and provide regular health reports.

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