© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People are seen next to restaurants at Houhai village in Sanya, Hainan province, China November 26, 2020. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang / File Photo
By Martin Quin Pollard and Eduardo Baptista
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – When Chinese businesswoman Yang Jing planned this year’s summer vacation in 2021, she chose the tropical island south of Hainan for its excellent COVID record.
The island in the South China Sea has only recorded two positive COVID-19 cases in the whole of last year. However, quickly came this month, and the number of cases suddenly skyrocketed, causing the city of Sanya to be closed and leaving tens of thousands of tourists like Yang stranded on the island.
Sanya, the island’s main tourist hub, imposed a lockdown on Saturday and restricted transport connections to try to contain the outbreak, even as some 80,000 visitors were enjoying the beaches. its sea in high season. Many people are currently trapped inside hotels until next Saturday, if not longer.
Yang, her husband and children are staying at a 4-star hotel that they pay for themselves. The family is eating pot noodles every day to avoid spending more on food.
“This is the worst vacation of my life,” Yang, aged 40 and living in southern China’s Jiangxi province, told Reuters on Sunday.
Sanya reported 689 symptomatic cases and 282 asymptomatic cases between August 1 and August 7. Other cities around Hainan province, including Danzhou, Dongfang, Lingshui and Lingao, are reported more than a dozen cases during the same period.
According to data provider Variflight, on Saturday sales of rail tickets out of Sanya were suspended, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing the national operator, and more than 80% of flights to and from Sanya has been cancelled, according to data provider Variflight.
Hainan has been closed to foreign tourists for the past two and a half years since China, in response to the pandemic, stopped issuing tourist visas and implemented strict quarantine rules.
Sanya authorities said stranded tourists can leave the island starting next Saturday, provided they have taken five COVID-19 tests and obtained negative results for all of them.
However, Yang said the waiting time for test results was long, forcing her to take multiple tests a day.
“We didn’t know who to go to, and the internet only had positive news about Sanya, such as … Sanya city government properly resettled 80,000 stranded tourists. .. as if the whole country thought (we) she said.