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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Tourists stuck in China resort city after Covid lockdown

Tourists stuck in China resort city after Covid lockdown

More than 2,000 tourists have been stranded in a Chinese coastal city after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Officials in Beihai locked down urban areas and ordered the mass testing of its 1.9m residents over the weekend.

It comes as concerns grow about the impact of China's "zero-Covid" policy on the world's second largest economy.

Last week, official figures showed the country's economy shrank in the second quarter of this year as Covid-19 restrictions hit firms and consumers.

Beihai, which is a popular summer destination in China's southern Guangxi region, recorded more than 450 infections in the five days to 16 July.

While that level of cases may seem low by international standards it is considered high under the Chinese government's approach to the pandemic.

On Sunday, Beihai's local government said tourists who had not been in contact with anyone who had contracted the virus, or visited medium or high-risk areas, would be allowed to leave if they showed a negative Covid-19 test.

The rest must stay in the city and be quarantined, officials told a news conference.

One tourist on holiday in Beihai expressed her frustration in a comment on the social media platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, which has received more than 2,700 likes.

"I just finished my 3 months lockdown in Shanghai. I just came to Beihai for a breath of fresh air, did I annoy anyone?" she said.

Elsewhere in China authorities are stepping up measures to combat rising Covid cases.

On Monday, Shanghai's local government said it would require residents in more than half of its 16 districts to be tested for the virus, after holding similar tests last week.

The major financial, trade and manufacturing centre only reopened in June after a two-month lockdown.

It is one of several large Chinese cities that are tackling new clusters of infections.

The Covid situation in China has "worsened slightly on a national level" over the past week, Japanese banking giant Nomura said in a note on Monday.

"Based on our own survey, 41 cities are currently implementing full or partial lockdowns or some kind of district-based control measures, which involve stringent measures restricting the mobility of local residents," analysts Ting Lu, Jing Wang and Harrington Zhang said.

"These 41 cities make up 18.7% of China's population and 22.8% of China's GDP [Gross Domestic Product]," they added.

On Friday, government data showed the country's economy contracted sharply in the second quarter of this year as widespread coronavirus lockdowns had a major impact on businesses and consumers.

GDP fell by 2.6% in the three months to the end of June from the previous quarter.

Large cities across China, including Shanghai, were put into full or partial lockdowns during this period as the country continues to pursue its zero-Covid policy.

GDP or Gross Domestic Product is one of the most important ways of showing how well, or badly, an economy is doing.

It's a measure of all the activity of companies, governments and individuals in an economy.
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