Tens of thousands stuck in 'China's Hawaii' after COVID lockdown imposed

·2 min read

Tens of thousands of tourists are stuck in a Chinese beach resort after a lockdown was imposed due to a sharp rise in COVID cases.

Sanya, a city in the island province of Hainan, brought in the measures on Saturday.

Holidaymakers must test negative five times in a week before they can leave the island - described as China's version of Hawaii.

The lockdown comes after more than 1,500 domestically transmitted infections were detected this month, at least 1,000 of them symptomatic.

It compares with only two local symptomatic cases on the island last year and is another example of China's strict approach to quashing even relatively small outbreaks.

More areas of the island were locked down on Monday, according to state media, including provincial capital Haikou - a city of nearly three million - and the smaller towns of Ledong and Chengmai.

People must not go out apart from essential reasons such as getting a COVID test, while some public transport has also been suspended.

The lockdowns are reportedly in place for varying periods; the one in Haikou for just 13 hours - but it's unclear when the measures in Sanya will end.

A reported 80,000 tourists in the resort now face being stuck in their hotels until at least next Saturday and most flights have been cancelled.

Tourists have been complaining on social media of still having to pay full price for their rooms despite officials saying they would be charged half price.

Others have said that food delivery fees and hotel meals prices have risen dramatically, and that there are long waits to get a coronavirus test.

"We just hope it won't turn into another Shanghai," said one tourist, speaking anonymously.

Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million, was recently subject to a two-month lockdown that confined people to their homes and sparked rare cases of public dissent.

China's zero-COVID policy has seen similar Draconian measures imposed in other cities in response to just a handful of cases.