China imposes an indefinite lockdown of the beach resort of Sanya — confining some 25,000 vacationers to their hotels — and lockdowns in four other cities in Hainan province.

Another 259 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan.
Another 259 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. (AP)

China's Hainan, an island province dependent on tourism, has locked down more areas as it battles its worst Covid-19 outbreak after seeing very few cases the past two years compared with many other regions in the country.

The provincial capital city of Haikou, with about 2.9 million residents, and two smaller towns, Ledong and Chengmai, locked down its residents on Monday, according to state media reports.

At least eight cities and towns, with a combined population of about 7 million, said their residents must not leave where they live except for necessary reasons such as grocery shopping or essential job roles. 

They also suspended public transport services. The measures will stay in place for varying periods, with the shortest scheduled for a few hours, state media reports show.

About 25,000 tourists are stranded in Sanya, the hardest-hit city in Hainan's outbreak and the island's key tourist hub, as of Sunday.

Authorities declared Hainan’s beach resort city Sanya a Covid-19 hot spot on Saturday and imposed a lockdown, confining Chinese citizens and expatriates to their hotels.

READ MORE: China’s Shanghai to carry out two new rounds of mass Covid testing

'Zero-Covid' policy

Tourists wanting to depart Sanya have to test negative for the coronavirus on five PCR tests over seven days.

The island in the South China Sea, which recorded just two local symptomatic Covid cases last year, has reported more than 1,400 domestically transmitted infections this month, including 982 symptomatic ones.

Although that is small by global standards, it is the province's biggest outbreak since the virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The sharp increase in cases comes amid a pick-up in interest in tourism after China slightly eased curbs aimed at domestic travel, accounting for the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant, which facilitates a shorter quarantine time.

Overall, China on Monday reported 324 new locally transmitted cases, along with 483 asymptomatic cases, which China classifies separately.

China has stuck steadfastly to a “zero-Covid” policy, despite the economic and social costs. 

It has credited that approach with keeping hospitalisation and death rates lower than in other countries that have opened up amid high vaccination rates, more effective treatments and the emergence of the more contagious but less lethal strain of the virus.

READ MORE: 1.7M under lockdown in China's central province after spike in Covid cases

Source: AP