BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Hainan, a tourism-dependent island province in China, imposed lockdowns on more areas on Monday, state media reported, as it grapples with its worst Covid-19 outbreak after having few cases in the past two. years compared to many other regions of the country.
The province, which recorded just two local symptomatic cases of Covid last year, has counted more than 1,500 internally transmitted infections this month, including more than 1,000 symptomatic ones. While this is low by global standards, it is Hainan’s biggest outbreak since the virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
The surge in cases comes as interest in tourism surges after China eased restrictions aimed at domestic travel a bit.
However, restrictions in Hainan, in line with China’s “zero tolerance” policy aimed at eliminating outbreaks as quickly as possible, point to lingering uncertainty surrounding travel and could further dampen confidence in the tourism and tourism sectors. hospitality.
The provincial capital Haikou, home to about 2.9 million people, and three smaller cities, Wuzhishan, Ledong and Chengmai, isolated residents on Monday, according to state media reports.
At least nine cities and towns, with a combined population of about 7 million, said their residents should not leave where they live except for necessary reasons such as Covid testing, grocery shopping or essential work functions. They also suspended public transport services.
Some 25,000 tourists were stranded in Sanya, the city hardest hit by the Hainan outbreak and the tropical island’s main tourist hub, as of Sunday.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Stella Qiu, Jason Xue, Ellis Ng, Xihao Jiang, Ryan Woo and Shanghai Newsroom)