Shanghai Daily

First batch of trapped tourists departs COVID-hit Hainan

- (Xinhua/Shanghai Daily)

TOURISTS from outside Hainan Province, who have been trapped on the south China island since the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, began returning home yesterday.

The Hainan government on Tuesday announced the conditions under which the trapped tourists are allowed to leave the island.

Those who are located in districts, counties or cities with no COVID-19 cases or whose travel groups or hotels had no cases in the past seven days can leave on two negative polymerase chain reaction test results within 48 hours with one test each day.

The same test results are required of individual tourists who don’t travel in groups. They also should not have suspicious symptoms such as fever, cough, anosmia or sore muscles in the past three days.

The two types of tourists, if located in low-risk areas, will also be able to leave the island, but only on three negative PCR test results within 72 hours with one test each day.

Those located in medium- and highrisk areas will be able to leave after the areas are downgraded to low-risk. This basically means that COVID-19 patients, their close contacts and tourists who are located in mediumand high-risk areas won’t be able to leave the island at the moment.

People with medical needs, senior citizens, children and pregnant women and their companions can get priority service if they so wish, according to the provincial government.

The departing tourists will be transporte­d to airports under closedloop management arranged by local government­s, and at their destinatio­ns, local government­s will arrange to take them back home without contact with other people.

Those returning are required to report their travel history to their local government on arrival and observe local pandemic control rules.

Starting from yesterday afternoon, three charter flights were leaving from Sanya Phoenix Internatio­nal Airport for Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, Chengdu in Sichuan Province, and Shanghai, respective­ly, to transport trapped tourists back to their home cities.

Meanwhile, authoritie­s in Sanya are moving fast to cater to the needs of the 80,000-plus stranded tourists.

For instance, at Howard Johnson Resort Sanya Bay, a five-star hotel, volunteers knock on doors to deliver fruit to stranded airport passengers. “Hello, please have some fresh fruit, and we wish you have a nice day!”

“No one wants this to happen,” said Sun Jingjing from Henan Province. “But it’s best to stay put and follow the local quarantine policy. We hope we can return home soon.”

Sun is among more than 3,000 tourists stranded as their flights were canceled due to the recent COVID-19 flare-up. They were later arranged by local authoritie­s to temporaril­y settle in 11 hotels for a week in Sanya.

This is the first time for Anastasia Rochelle Naidoo, a native of South Africa, to visit Sanya.

“I think generally, especially with this hotel, things have been handled quite well and they’ve been very helpful. So we’re just going with the flow,” said Naidoo, adding that the government is acting fast, too.

A task force was establishe­d to resolve issues faced by the stranded tourists, such as travel refunds. Sanya has also asked hotels to offer 50 percent discounts for stranded guests. Tourists whose nucleic acid tests remain negative for seven days can leave after further evaluation.

Epidemiolo­gical investigat­ions and gene sequencing analysis show that the current outbreak was caused by the Omicron subvariant BA.5, according to Jin Yuming, chief expert of the Hainan Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

By 12pm yesterday, Hainan had reported a total of 1,899 COVID-19 cases since August 1, among which 1,558 were reported from Sanya.

 ?? — CFP ?? The first batch of COVID-trapped tourists check in at Sanya Phoenix Internatio­nal Airport in Sanya, Hainan Province, yesterday. Tourists from outside the south China island began returning home yesterday.
— CFP The first batch of COVID-trapped tourists check in at Sanya Phoenix Internatio­nal Airport in Sanya, Hainan Province, yesterday. Tourists from outside the south China island began returning home yesterday.

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