Beijing to close section of Great Wall, other tourist sites
China announced Friday (Jan 24) it will close a section of the Great Wall and other famous Beijing landmarks to control the spread of a deadly virus that has infected hundreds of people across the country.
A range of Lunar New Year festivities have been cancelled to try to contain the virus, and Beijing’s Forbidden City has also been closed temporarily.
The Ming Tombs and Yinshan Pagoda will also be closed from Saturday, the authority that oversees the sites said, while the Bird’s Nest stadium – the site of the 2008 Olympic Games – was shuttered from Friday.
The Bird’s Nest will be closed until Jan 30 in order to “prevent and control” the spread of the virus, authorities said. An ice and snow show taking place on the pitch will be closed.
The Great Wall attracts around 10 million tourists a year and is a popular destination for visitors during the New Year holiday.
The Juyongguan section will close, while the Great Wall temple fair was cancelled at the Simatai section of the famous landmark.
Tourists at the Gubei water town by the Simatai section will have their temperature tested, the authority said in a statement on the WeChat social media app.
Shanghai Disneyland said on its website it would temporarily close from Saturday “in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety” of its guests and staff.
Disney opened its US$5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai in June 2016, its sixth amusement park and third in Asia.
The measures in the capital are the latest to try and control the outbreak of the new coronavirus, after authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort that affected 41 million people in central Hubei province.
The previously unknown virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Although there have only been 29 confirmed cases in Beijing, city authorities have cancelled large-scaled Chinese New Year events this week.
The city government said it would call off events including two popular temple fairs, which have attracted massive crowds of tourists in past years.
Beijing’s Forbidden City – which saw 19 million visitors last year – is usually packed with tourists during the Lunar New Year festival, when hundreds of millions of people travel across China.
The virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan has now infected 830 people, the national health commission said.
Of the cases in China so far, 177 are in serious condition. Authorities were also examining 1,072 suspected cases.