The southern Chinese beach resort city of Sanya imposed a lockdown on Saturday and shut down its public transport system to try to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 during the peak tourist season.

Authorities announced that the curbs would begin at 6am (22:00 GMT), saying the COVID situation was “very serious” and the movement of people was restricted. When these measures may be lifted is not said.

“We urge the public and tourists to understand and support,” the authorities said in a statement on the city government’s WeChat account.

On Friday, the city on Hainan Island reported 263 cases of COVID.

Authorities said they discovered the Omicron BA.5.1.3 subvariant.

The lockdown comes during high tourist season for the city, which is also known for its duty-free shopping and is home to several high-end hotels run by international companies, including IHG and Marriott International.

Deputy Mayor He Shigang told state broadcaster CCTV that there were about 80,000 tourists in the city.

People must have two negative PCR tests done within 48 hours to leave Sanya.

On Thursday, the city began imposing lockdown measures in some locations.

Other locations, including duty-free malls popular with Chinese shoppers unable to travel abroad, were closed on Friday.

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