According to reports, a Delta Airlines flight from Seattle was turned back midair due to lack of “pandemic-related cleaning requirements” at Shanghai airport.
The move reportedly led to protests from the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. The Chinese consulate has reportedly made a “stern representation to the airline” even as several flights to China have been cancelled in recent days.
The development comes as China continues to battle the virus ahead of the Winter Olympics in February 2022. In October, Chinese authorities had grounded hundreds of flights in Beijing due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Reports claimed the passengers were left with expired COVID-19 test results after the Delta airlines flight was turned back.
Delta airlines had cancelled hundreds of flights during Christmas in the United States amid the Omicron variant threat as reports claimed commercial airliners worldwide had cancelled over 4,500 flights during the heavy Christmas weekend.
Watch: China records biggest COVID-19 infection surge
Reports say Taiwan has also reduced flights to Shanghai airport over disinfection procedures.
The development comes as China moved to clamp down flights in COVID-hit Xi’an city which has emerged as the new epicentre of the virus.
Chinese authorities have put several cities under lockdown in the past two months including in the northwestern city of Lanzhou and the Inner Mongolian county of Ejin.
China has been plagued by local flare-ups of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant being the dominant strain.
(With inputs from Agencies)