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COVID lockdown at 'China's Hawaii' widens

A lockdown on the Chinese island of Hainan has been extended to cover several cities. The tourism-dependent province, which had comparatively few cases during the pandemic, is battling its worst outbreak so far.

Tourists line up to receive nucleic acid tests at a testing site in Sanya

Tourists wanting to leave the island have to receive five negative COVID tests over seven days

Chinese authorities have expanded a strict coronavirus lockdown on the tropical island of Hainan beyond the beach resort of Sanya. 

Tens of thousands of tourists from the mainland were already stranded in Sanya — dubbed China's Hawaii — with four more cities covered by measures from Monday. 

What has been happening on Hainan?

Officials announced lockdown measures on the island of Hainan after more than 1,100 COVID cases were detected on the island, which lies in the South China Sea.

Some 80,000 tourists are reported to have been stranded by the lockdown in Sanya, which is the tourist hub of Hainan.

Authorities declared Sanya a coronavirus hot spot Saturday, imposing a lockdown that confined Chinese and international tourists to hotels and vacation apartments.

Authorities have ordered hotels to halve their rates for stranded tourists, but "isolated cases" have seen them refuse to do so or even double their rates.

People enjoy bathing at Dadonghai beach in Sanya on China's tropical Hainan

Sanya is the hub of the tourist industry on the tropical island of Hainan

Other regions of the island also imposed lockdowns, with state media reporting on Monday that four more cities — Wanning, Danzhou, Qionghai and Lingshui — were included.

A short 13-hour lockdown was also imposed in the provincial capital, Haikou city, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. 

Anyone wanting to leave the island must test negatively five times over seven days. 

Travel and tourism shares dip

The strict measures are in line with China's "dynamic zero-COVID" policy, imposing sweeping lockdowns on any outbreak despite the resultant dampening of economic growth.

Tourism, transport and consumer staple stocks all lost value on Monday, with one — the China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp — down 4.7%.  The downturn came after Sanya began closing duty-free malls last week.

China's struggling aviation sector, which had counted on a summer travel boom to trim record losses, also took a hit.

Shares in Hainan Airlines fell by 1.5% on Monday, hovering around the lowest level since February last year, when the airline was seeking to settle a long-running liquidity crisis.

Zero-Covid China: a failed strategy?

rc/nm (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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