China on Wednesday tightened overseas travel restrictions for its citizens as part of efforts to contain rising coronavirus cases, after reporting its highest number of infections in months.
The movement of people is coming under more restriction inside China - with localised transport closures and stay-at-home orders in places in some cities - and beyond China's borders.
China had previously boasted of its success in crushing Covid-19, with hard lockdowns in the early stages mixed with tight controls of its borders, but mass testing campaigns have uncovered Delta variant infections across the country.
The latest outbreak is threatening the countires return to normal life and an economic rebound with nearly 500 domestic cases reported since mid-July.
Local governments have tested entire cities and locked down millions, with the official figures on Wednesday revealing 71 new infections -- the most since January, but still a low caseload despite the outbreak spreading to dozens of cities.
The outbreak, which began when an infection among passengers on a flight from Moscow spread to airport cleaners in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has exposed weaknesses in the country's already strict border containment measures.
China's immigration authority on Wednesday announced it would stop issuing ordinary passports and other documents needed for exiting the country in "non-essential and non-emergency" cases.
That does not yet mean a blanket overseas travel ban for the Chinese public.
Immigration official Liu Haitao told a press briefing that those who "have real needs for studying abroad, employment and business" will still have their documents issued upon verification.
Foreign crews on hundreds of ships have been stopped from disembarking and changing shifts at Chinese ports.
The central government has also ordered localities to cut off public transport and taxis in and out of areas hit by the outbreak, the transport ministry said at the same press conference.