The authorities in Hainan province are working hard to assist tourists who have been stranded amid a new outbreak of COVID-19 that has so far affected 13 cities and counties across the island.
The latest steps unveiled by the provincial government on Monday, which are part of Hainan's liaison mechanism to serve stranded tourists in the island province, include the opening of an official WeChat account and a special 24-hour hotline service.
A special group headed by Shen Danyang, executive vice-governor of Hainan, has been working since Friday to ensure emergency support, provide considerate and warm services and deal with the various needs of tourists who have been stranded in Sanya, where the first confirmed new case of COVID-19 was detected on Aug 1.
The popular resort city imposed a citywide lockdown starting from 6 am on Saturday that has also seen the suspension of all public transportation services in the city.
From Aug 1 to noon on Monday, a total of 824 confirmed locally transmitted cases and 419 asymptomatic carriers had been reported in Sanya, according to the local COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control headquarters.
More than 80,000 tourists are currently stranded in the city, which is in its peak tourism season, said He Shigang, vice-mayor of Sanya.
Travelers who are in Sanya, or have a travel history that includes visiting Sanya since July 23, will have to stay in Hainan for another seven days starting from Saturday, and have five nucleic acid tests before leaving the island province, local officials said.
The local government in Sanya has asked hotels in the city to offer half-price discounts to tourists having to extend their stays.
Liu Cheng, an official with the provincial tourism authority, said that personnel have been sent to deal with complaints by tourists that some hotels have failed to follow the relevant measures and overcharged tourists.
He said that special work groups have also been established to assist tourists seeking to cancel hotel reservations and requesting refunds, and to help safeguard their legal rights and interests.
"Despite the sudden outbreak, our stay in Lingshui and Sanya in the past week has been unforgettable. Its tropical attractions and tourism facilities are fabulous," said He Chenyang, a diving coach from Chengdu, Sichuan province, who is now stranded with her family at a homestay in Bohou village, Sanya.
Support teams with the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, backed by more than 8,500 medical workers from 18 provinces and regions, have been organized to help the island cope with the developing situation, local officials said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
As of noon on Monday, the province had registered 1,042 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 465 asymptomatic infections since the first case was reported in Sanya on Aug 1, according to the Hainan Provincial Health Commission.
Mass nucleic acid testing is being conducted for all people on the tropical island to cut off the chains of transmission and get the outbreak under control as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Haikou, the provincial capital, began to implement citywide temporary "static management"－which barred residents from leaving their homes unless necessary from 6 am to 7 pm on Monday to help stop the outbreak. Similar practices have also been imposed in other cities and counties across the island, including Danzhou, Lingshui, Wanning and Dongfang.