BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Chinese mainland reported 350 new locally confirmed Covid-19 cases and 478 asymptomatic ones on Tuesday (Aug 9) morning.
Of these, 300 cases were reported in the southernmost Hainan province. Tourism on the island, famous for its beaches and seafood, is bearing the brunt of the latest outbreak, as over 80,000 tourists are having to undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine in its tourism city Sanya alone.
The provincial government of Hainan is doing its best to help the tourists, by ordering all hotels to half the room rates, and arranging tourists whose conditions meet the quarantine requirement to go home since Tuesday. Reports say the authorities will punish hotels that are lowering rates to half the marked and not actual price.
Meanwhile, on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, some users are blaming the tourists for "spreading the virus wherever they go". It could not have been any more absurd. Tourists are within their rights to travel wherever they want on holiday.
Anybody with the slightest knowledge about domestic Covid-19 pandemic control policies will know the kind of hassles one goes through before a vacation. The tourists who flew to Hainan had to undergo nucleic acid testing 48 hours before boarding their flights, and ensure that their health kit code was green, and undergo regular nucleic acid testing on arrival too. As long as a tourist obeys all rules and travels legally, he or she should not be blamed for visiting places.
Also, one must not forget that the tourists are the ones who have been most inconvenienced, being trapped in Hainan and having to change their schedule because of the pandemic. Tourism is the pillar of Hainan's economy, and it is the tourists who have helped the province prosper. The tourists are also echoing the central leadership's call to boost domestic consumption by visiting Hainan. That's all the more reason why they should not be accused of "spreading the pandemic".
The global Covid-19 pandemic situation remains grave and the pressure of cases coming from overseas is also high. This is a time to stay united and blame the virus, not the tourists.
- China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media titles.