Only two positive cases of COVID-19 were recorded on the island in the South China Sea in the whole of last year. Fast forward to this month, however, and the number of cases has suddenly increased, shutting down the city of Sanya and leaving tens of thousands of tourists like Yang stranded on the island.

Sanya, the island’s main tourist hub, imposed a lockdown on Saturday and restricted transport links to try to contain the outbreak, even as some 80,000 visitors enjoyed the beaches during peak season. Many are now stuck in hotels until next Saturday, if not longer.

Jan, along with her husband and child, stayed in a four-star hotel paid for out of their own pocket. The family eats noodles every day to avoid spending more on food.

“This is the worst holiday of my life,” Yang, 40, who lives in southern China’s Jiangxi province, told Reuters on Sunday.

Sanya reported 689 symptomatic and 282 asymptomatic cases between August 1 and 7. Other cities around Hainan province, including Danzhou, Dongfang, Lingshui and Lingao, reported more than a dozen cases over the same period.

On Saturday, train ticket sales from Sanya were suspended, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing the national operator, and more than 80% of flights to and from Sanya were cancelled, according to data provider Variflight.

Hainan has been closed to foreign tourists for the past two and a half years as China halted tourist visas and imposed strict quarantine rules in response to the pandemic.

Sanya authorities said stranded tourists can leave the island from next Saturday, provided they have taken five tests for COVID and received negative results for all of them.

However, Yang said the waiting time for test results was long, forcing her to take multiple tests a day.

“We don’t know who to go to, and there is only positive news about Sanya on the Internet, for example, the Sanya municipal authorities correctly resettled 80,000 stranded tourists, as if the whole country thinks that (we) are not victims, but beneficiaries. ” she said.

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