A photo shows inflatable COVID-19 testing labs in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, Aug 7, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
The island province of Hainan is fighting a COVID-19 flare-up, with its holiday resort city of Sanya reporting more than 800 symptomatic and over 400 asymptomatic cases over the past week. The situation has prompted the local government to impose a lockdown of the city as well as strict travel restrictions island-wide, which has left more than 80,000 tourists stranded in Hainan.
Mass nucleic acid testing is also 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.
Past experience has proved that so long as the testing, quarantining and treatment are handled properly and promptly, a wave of infections can be nipped in the bud, and the life and economic activities in the affected areas could be brought back to the normal track at an early date.
What makes Hainan's anti-pandemic fight particularly challenging though is the virus is a highly transmissible Omicron variant, called BA.5.1.3, which has been detected on the Chinese mainland for the first time. Local public health workers must be aware of the complex and onerous nature of the ongoing fight against the virus and make sure they have adequate manpower and materials in store for the prevention and control efforts. It is encouraging that more than 5,000 medical workers from other parts of the country are already on their way to Hainan to help the island with its anti-pandemic fight.
The measures have been taken in accordance with the central leadership's call to unswervingly adhere to the life-saving dynamic clearing COVID-19 policy, and deal with any outbreaks in a timely manner. But it is important that Hainan complies with the leadership's insistence that all prevention and control measures are people-oriented so they can gain the support of the public.
Local officials must make sure that the basic services essential for people's livelihoods are guaranteed, and that the needs and concerns of the tens of thousands of stranded visitors are well addressed. This may have a long-lasting effect on the local economy because Hainan's reputation as a tourist resort will to a large extent depend on word of mouth. Once its image is tarnished－even if it is just because of the bad experience for a small number of visitors－it will take a long time for it to be repaired.
In the past nearly three years, the country has withstood the challenges of COVID-19 prevention and control tests one after another. And we have every reason to believe that Hainan too will pass the test, and after the hiatus of a short-term lockdown, it will continue to be a magnet for tourists.
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