PCR Tests Needed for the Beach in China’s Tropical Getaway

China’s beach resort city of Sanya is ramping up its Covid-19 controls, disrupting the holiday plans of thousands of people, after a surge in cases made it the nation’s latest virus hotspot.

The city in the southern province of Hainan — often called the “Hawaii of China” — reported 107 new infections since noon Thursday, according to CCTV. This brings the number of new infections to 140 since Monday. Officials say the flareup is driven by the BA.5.1.3 omicron subvariant, which hasn’t been found in China before, and is linked to a fishmonger.

The city was partially closed by authorities on Thursday. Bars, karaoke rooms, and other indoor spaces were shut down. Takeout is only available at restaurants. Residents in high-risk zones are prohibited from leaving their homes and lodgings. Others can go outside only once per two days for necessities. Anybody wishing to travel to Sanya must have their Covid results negative within 48 hours.

For holidaymakers remaining in the city, there’s little to see and do and Chinese social media showed photos of lines of people snaking around Covid testing sites. Visitor attractions are now closed. A negative test must be done in 24 hours to visit the beaches of Yalong Bay or Haitang Bay.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has echoed the principle of Covid Zero’s swift lockdown. However, the rapid lockdown is increasingly being challenged by more contagious variants and has incurred a significant economic and social loss.

It’s also left the country isolated in a world that’s mostly pivoted to living with the virus and it’s unclear how authorities can navigate toward an exit. President Xi Jinping has made the zero-tolerance approach a hallmark of his rule and has said the nation won’t pursue “herd immunity” like other nations because it would exact too much of a toll, particularly on China’s elderly, who have lower vaccination rates.

Sanya was the third Chinese tourist center to have its peak season disrupted this year by an outbreak. Last month, Beihai was closed in Guangxi to stop an epidemic. However, restrictions were lifted from August 1. Officials have requested that Silk Road visitors not visit Xinjiang’s city of Yining.

Yiwu is a manufacturing and trading city that produces Christmas decorations and trees. As part of mass testing, public transport in the city will not be available for three days. Indoor venues are also closed. Certain areas are being restricted from allowing residents to leave their homes. Jinhua (prefecture-level municipality that manages Yiwu) reported 65 cases on Thursday.

China reported 410 cases nationwide for Thursday.

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