BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s tourism-dependent island province of Hainan imposed a lockdown in more areas on Monday, state media reported, amid its worst Covid-19 outbreak since few cases in the past two years. Compared to many other regions of the country.
The province, which recorded only two local symptomatic cases of Covid last year, counted more than 1,500 internally transmitted infections this month, including more than 1,000 symptomatic cases. While this is low by global standards, it is Hainan’s largest outbreak since the virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
The spike in cases comes as interest in tourism has increased after China eased restrictions on domestic travel.
However, the restrictions in Hainan, in line with China’s “zero tolerance” policy aimed at eradicating the outbreak as quickly as possible, point to uncertainty surrounding travel, which could further dampen confidence in the tourism and tourism sectors.
The provincial capital of Haikou, home to about 2.9 million people, and three smaller cities, Wujishan, Ledong and Chengmai, quarantined residents on Monday, according to state media reports.
At least nine cities and towns, with a population of about 7 million, have told their residents not to leave their homes except for essential reasons, such as getting tested for Covid-19, grocery shopping or essential work activities. They also suspended public transport services.
As of Sunday, 25,000 tourists were stranded in Sanya, the city hardest hit by the Hainan outbreak and the tropical island’s main tourist destination.
(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Stella Qiu, Jason Qiu, Ellis Ng, Zihao Jiang, Ryan Wu, Shanghai Newsroom)
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