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

Sanya Covid lockdown: Thousands of tourists stranded in 'China's Hawaii'
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Public transport has been suspended and the movements of people within the city have been restricted since early Saturday morning, authorities said. Stranded tourists must stay seven days and pass five Covid-19 tests before leaving.

Vice Mayor He Shigang said on Friday that around 80,000 tourists remained in the city. Everyone currently in Sanya, as well as people who have been in the city since July 23, were not allowed to leave Hainan province after 6:00 p.m. local time on Saturday, authorities said. provincial authorities.

The restrictions come at the height of the summer tourist season for the island province, a popular destination often called the Hawaii of China for its sandy beaches, tropical forests and high-end hotels.

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

Authorities in Sanya acknowledged the inconvenience to tourists and pledged during a press conference on Saturday afternoon to do their best to resolve any issues that arise, including simplifying travel booking cancellations and offering discounts. half price 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. However, the entire city was considered to be under “static management”, an official term used to describe the deployment of lockdown measures.

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

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

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

Hainan provincial authorities on Saturday also announced province-wide nucleic acid tests for its population of 10 million, as cases have been reported elsewhere on the island.

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

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

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