Sanya Covid lockdown: Thousands of tourists stranded in ‘Hawaii in China’

Public transport was suspended and movement of people inside the city was restricted from Saturday morning, authorities said. Stranded tourists must stay for seven days and pass five Covid-19 tests before leaving.

Deputy Mayor He Shigang said Friday that about 80,000 tourists remained in the city. All those currently in Sanya as well as people who have traveled to the city since July 23 were barred from leaving Hainan Province after 6 p.m. local time on Saturday, provincial authorities said.

The restrictions come at the height of the summer tourist season for the island province, a popular destination often referred to as Hawaii in China for its sandy beaches, rainforests and upscale hotels.

More than 80% of flights out of Sanya were canceled on Saturday, according to data from flight tracking company Variflight. All trains from Sanya have been cancelled, state broadcaster CCTV said on Saturday.

Authorities in Sanya acknowledged the inconvenience to tourists and pledged at a Saturday afternoon press conference to do their best to address the issues that arise, including streamlining cancellations of travel reservations and offering half price discounts on hotel stays for tourists stranded in Sanya.

The city has been divided into high and medium risk zones, with control measures varying according to the level of risk, according to local officials. The entire city, however, was considered to be under “static management” – an official term used to describe the deployment of lockdown measures.

The city, which sits on the southern tip of Hainan Island, recorded 827 cases between Aug. 1 and midnight Saturday, including 240 confirmed cases and 173 asymptomatic infections Saturday, according to an announcement from provincial health officials Sunday morning. China is counting symptomatic and asymptomatic cases separately.

Saturday’s figures make the outbreak the most severe in China, which has reported a total of 736 local confirmed and asymptomatic cases nationwide for that day.

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Authorities said they detected the highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron BA.5.1.3 in the outbreak, which they believe spread to the island through contact with foreign seafood vendors in the Yazhou fishing port in Sanya.

Hainan provincial authorities also announced province-wide nucleic acid testing for its population of 10 million on Saturday as cases were reported in other parts of the island.

Another city in Hainan, Danzhou, announced partial lockdown measures for its roughly 1 million residents on Saturday afternoon, according to an official bulletin, while authorities in Qionghai city announced a series of measures on Sunday, closing most non-essential businesses and ordering its half a million residents to stay at home unless necessary, effective that morning, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The latest measures come as China’s economy struggles under its tough ‘zero-Covid’ policy, in which it aims to suppress the spread of infection through lockdowns, mass testing and border controls. strict.

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