Dharamsala, August 12 (SocialNews.XYZ) Reported Covid-19 outbreaks in Tibet may be the result of Chinese tourism encouraged by the government in Beijing, according to observers inside Tibet, which has closed all Buddhist sites, including the iconic Potala Palace.
Commentators have also complained about insufficient infrastructure to fight the pandemic in Tibet.
Although China almost never allows journalists, diplomats and tourists from other countries to visit Tibet, it has encouraged local tourists to visit the region as part of Beijing’s intensive campaign to assimilate the Tibet to Chinese society.
Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region – which spans about half of Tibet – have placed the entire population of 800,000 in the city of Shigatse Prefecture under a full three-day lockdown.
Authorities also imposed partial lockdowns in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, Nyingtri (Chinese: Linzhi) and Lhoka (Shannan) after detecting several cases in the region since August 6.
According to Chinese state media, starting with four positive cases in the western Tibetan town of Purang (Pulan) county in Ngari (Ali) on August 6, other cases have been detected so far in Shigatse, Lhasa. , Nyingtri and Lhoka.
On Friday, there were more than 25 positive cases.
According to state media about the ongoing preparation for Covid testing not only in these areas but also in Nagchu (Naqu) and Chamdo (Changdu) as well as makeshift hospitals in Chamdo, the infected areas may be larger than reported.
Details of the individuals with Covid, including where they came from, have not been made public, other than that they contracted the Omicron BA.2.76 variant strain.
All of those infected are believed to have been travelers, including on the railway line between Shigatse and Lhasa, as well as between Lhasa and Nyingtri.
Even before the strict restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities as part of their “dynamic zero-Covid policy”, Tibet was virtually blocked. The region has been closed to foreign tourists for several years.
Despite China’s strict censorship of social media posts, since the latest Covid cases some have pointed to these tourists as the possible cause of the outbreaks.
One such post from August 8 read “”In short, there are two main reasons, one is the highly contagious Omicron, and the other is the increased flow of people during the summer holidays. Therefore, not only Tibet but also many popular tourist destinations such as Xinjiang and Hainan also experienced epidemics during this period. »
In a precautionary diversion of attention and criticism of the large influx and presence of Chinese visitors, Global Times, a state media outlet, published a report alluding to neighboring countries as a possible source of infection.
“As Xigaze (Chinese spelling of Shigatse) is a border town of India, Nepal and Bhutan, the possibility of infection through trade cannot be excluded,” the newspaper reported on Aug. 8.
The Buddhist Association of Lhasa announced the closure of all Tibetan Buddhist sites and suspended all religious activities in the city.
The iconic Potala Palace is also closed, along with other temples and monasteries in the city.
The association’s opinion did not specify the duration of the measures of closure and suspension of religious activities.