Since August 1, Sanya has reported a total of 801 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 409 local asymptomatic cases. Some 168 areas have been designated as high-risk, with a further 67 medium-risk.
80,000 Stranded Tourists
The city imposed 'static management' from 6am Saturday morning, August 6. Being peak season, 80,000 tourists are reported to be stranded in the popular holiday destination.
All tourists must undergo a week-long quarantine with five nucleic acid tests before leaving, authorities have said.
Departing Flights Cancelled
However, all departing flights and railway services from Sanya have been cancelled to contain the outbreak, and the government has said that updated rules will be published on the city's official social media accounts.
The outbreak was triggered by the highly-contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5.1.3, with most cases defined as mild, and no severe or critical cases reported so far.
It's the first time that the BA.5.1.3 subvariant has been detected in China. Gene sequencing has shown that the virus was not brought to Sanya by domestic tourists, while the infected are mainly local residents.
As for the source, the leading theory is that of illegal fishermen trading out at sea with their Vietnamese counterparts – and being infected by them – before returning to the fishing port at Yazhou, Sanya's westernmost district, from where the virus spread across the city.
Haikou Also Locked Down
Provincial capital Haikou has been placed into a "temporary whole city lockdown" from 6am to 7pm today, Monday, August 8. Wanning and Qionghai are also under 'static management.'
As we all know by now, temporary lockdowns can end up being anything but temporary, so we'll be keeping an eye on developments on that front.
Call for Backup
A team dispatched by the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 has arrived in Hainan to work together with municipal and provincial authorities to curb the resurgence.
More than 3,000 medical teams have also rushed to Sanya to support the fight against the outbreak, many of whom are veterans of the original 2020 COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
They join the local medics, frontline workers and over 4,000 volunteers who were already working around the clock at nucleic acid testing sites across the city.
While lines for those testing sites remain long, authorities say the screening process has become more efficient, with results now issued six to eight hours after testing.
A total of 33 hotels – with over 6,900 rooms – have been designated as isolation sites for close and secondary contacts of COVID-19 cases. A task force has been established to ensure supplies of food and necessities for those living under closed management.
Discounts & Refunds
Meanwhile, the city has mandated that tourists stranded at their original hotels will be charged half price during the lockdown.
Airlines and travel operators are also providing full refunds for tourists who have booked flights and holidays to Sanya.
Cities and provinces around China have begun to impose quarantine measures on those returning from Sanya, with measures even being imposed retroactively – with those who returned from Sanya from late July onwards being told to stay home.
However, with all departing flights from the city now cancelled, we guess this is no longer going to be an issue until they resume – and it looks like this Sanya situation might be one that drags on for a while yet...
[Cover image via NIAID-RML]