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Covid China: Thousands locked in at Shanghai Disneyland

Tens of thousands of holidayers have been forced to undergo testing after a coronavirus scare at a popular Disney hotspot.

Nearly 34,000 people at Shanghai Disneyland have been held for mandatory Covid testing, after a positive case of coronavirus was detected during the popular holiday destination’s Halloween festivities.

Police blocked the exits and secured the grounds as authorities sent in dozens of hazmat-clad workers to the park.

All park-goers were locked in on-site until close to midnight and then shipped home on some 220 special buses. Despite everyone returning negative tests on Monday, they will be forced to self-isolate at home for two days and be re-tested for the virus in two weeks.

The frantic move to test tens of thousands of holidayers and staff came as authorities rushed to contact trace a positive case in a woman who travelled to Shanghai from nearby Hangzhou. According to Bloomberg, Chinese officials are yet to confirm whether she visited Disneyland.

Shanghai Disney did not offer a detailed explanation for the shutdown, merely confirming they were “co-operating with the pandemic investigation in other provinces and cities”.

According to state media outlet The Global Times, both Shanghai Disneyland and Disneytown will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, with a reopening time yet to be determined.

The nation of 1.4 billion has placed at least four million people under harsh new lockdown measures in a desperate attempt to maintain the nation’s Covid-zero strategy. The order has been imposed in 11 provinces – including Beijing – and apartment blocks with active cases have been put into strict 21 day lockdowns.

It comes after more than 120 Covid cases were reported in the last week — leaving authorities scrambling to contain the outbreak just 100 days before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics – and two weeks out from a key Chinese Communist Party meeting.

The strict orders mean that millions of residents can’t leave home except in emergencies. Beijing imposed strict border controls after the coronavirus was first detected in China in late 2019, slowing the number of cases to a trickle and allowing the economy to bounce back.

But as the rest of the world opens up and tries to find ways to live with the virus, China has maintained a zero-Covid approach that has seen harsh local lockdowns imposed over handfuls of cases.

This week’s fresh restrictions came as China reported just 29 new domestic infections on Tuesday — including six in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in the country’s northwest.

Mass testing is under way in 11 provinces and authorities have suspended many inter-provincial tour groups. While the country’s case numbers are extremely low compared with elsewhere in the world, authorities are determined to stamp out the latest outbreak with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing just over 100 days away.

As part of China’s strict enforcement of the zero-Covid policy, those deemed to have failed in controlling Covid are often dismissed from their posts or punished. On Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency reported that the party secretary of Ejin Banner in the northern Inner Mongolia region had been sacked, “due to poor performance and implementation in epidemic prevention and control”. Hit by the latest wave, the city locked down about 35,000 residents from Monday.

Around 10,000 tourists were also placed under lockdown in Ejin, according to local media reports. Six other officials were punished for their “slack response” to the latest flare-up, state media reported, and a local police bureau deputy director was removed from their position. Beijing police have launched three criminal investigations into alleged Covid safety breaches, deputy director of the city’s public security bureau said Sunday.

— with AFP



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