Beijing [China], August 8 (ANI): After the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Sanya city of southern China's Hainan province, four more cities in the province have been forced to impose "static management," in a bid to cut off the fast transmission chain as the province reported over 1,140 COVID-19 cases in less than a week.
It means that local residents must stay indoors and public transportation is suspended, in what officials call "static management", Global Times reported.
Sanya city, also called "Hawaii of China" announced the activation of temporary static management starting on Saturday morning to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Following the steps of Sanya, the other four cities, Wanning, Danzhou, Qionghai and Lingshui have imposed static management starting from Sunday.
The announcements came after Wanning reported 10 COVID-19 cases, Danzhou 51 cases, Qionghai 6 cases and Lingshui 36 cases as of press time on Sunday, Global Times reported.
In total, between August 1 and Sunday, the province registered 1,140 COVID-19 cases, of which 971 cases are in Sanya and the rest in 10 other cities or counties in the province.
The daily cases across the province reached its highest on Saturday, with 297 confirmed cases and 186 asymptomatic cases, according to Hainan provincial health authorities.
Within the first 12 hours on Sunday, the province reported another 182 cases, Global Times reported.
Officials say that the virus strain has been identified as the Omicron BA5.1.3 variant, which was reported for the first time domestically with the hidden and strong transmission.
The health authorities in Hainan expressed concern over the expanding trend of the recent variant and said that this round of the COVID-19 epidemic is in the growing stage. It has spread widely among communities and reached a certain scale.
The proportion of people among the newly infected who have been placed under restrictions is gradually increasing, authorities added.
A Beijing-based medical expert said, "The recent COVID-19 surge in the province may indicate that before the first case was found on August 1, the virus had been spreading among communities for some time, and due to crowds of tourists, the virus then rapidly multiplied."
Meanwhile, health authorities have warned that there are still some cases yet to be placed under quarantine and said that cases will continue to rise for some time in the province before showing a downward trend.
Sanya city, in a bid to ramp up the COVID-19 control measures, imposed static management which left over 80,000 tourists stranded in the city.
Due to the recent epidemic flare-up, the railway authorities have banned all ticket sales in Sanya, and residents cannot leave Sanya by rail.
Prices of air tickets leaving Sanya have skyrocketed. For flights from Sanya to Shanghai, economy class tickets are being sold for around 3,000 yuan (USD 443), while business class is priced at around USD 15,000.
All flights leaving Sanya were cancelled on Saturday, and the flights to Sanya have turned back en route, according to Yicai.com.
Passengers stranded at the Sanya airport were transferred to hotels in the city for follow-up arrangements, Global Times reported.
On Saturday, the Sanya Phoenix International Airport cancelled the majority, or 164, flights, data from information provider VariFlight showed.
Sanya is the third tourist hub in China to see its peak season disrupted by outbreaks this year.
Health experts said that the biggest challenge for Hainan in containing the infections is that the actual scale of the epidemic still cannot be clearly identified and the province may need to roll out multiple rounds of regular mass testing to reduce the risk, Global Times reported.
The province with a population of more than 10 million started the province-scale mass nucleic acid testing on Sunday, as the spread of the epidemic further expanded on the island. (ANI)