Tourists stranded in China's Hainan as Covid-19 cases multiply

A couple in Hainan province on July 28. The city reported 107 new infections since noon on Aug 4, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - The Chinese beach resort city of Sanya has become the nation's latest virus hotspot with more than 100 Covid-19 cases recorded on Thursday (Aug 4), leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded in one of the country's most popular summer destinations.

The city in the southern province of Hainan - often called the "Hawaii of China" - reported 107 new infections since noon on Thursday, a sharp jump from the 11 cases found on Wednesday, according to CCTV.

Authorities partially locked down the city on Thursday, closing indoor venues like karaoke parlours and bars.

People in areas categorised as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes or lodgings, while others can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities.

The swift lockdown, a core tenet of Covid Zero, has been echoed across China since the earliest days of the pandemic. But the strategy is being increasingly challenged by the spread of more contagious sub-variants and has exacted a heavy economic and social toll.

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.

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