Hainan’s COVID clearance promise failed. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan went to Hainan and made promises to the 150,000 passengers trapped in Hainan.
A man who was forced to stay in the local area on a business trip from Chengdu, Sichuan, to Hainan told the misfortunes he and his family are suffering during their stay in Hainan.
Sun Chunlan visits Hainan
Recently, the Hainan epidemic has been one of the focal points of mainland China. Hainan is a tourist destination, and the epidemic broke out during the summer peak season. The Hainan authorities announced on August 9 that the social distance would last less than 12 days.
On August 12, about 1,200 new cases of local infection were reported; on August 13, it rose to over 1,400.
Haikou, Hainan’s capital, continues to be closed and controlled, and also local suburban trains and the Hainan high-speed ring railway have been completely suspended.
Dongfang City also announced that they would expand the lockdown or static management completely for another three days as of August 12.
On August 13, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan arrived in Hainan to “guide the epidemic prevention and control work.” Sun Chunlan said that the 150,000 passengers stranded due to the epidemic should be guaranteed services. She ordered the Province to carry out a proper risk assessment and strictly prevent the spread of the epidemic.
Sun Chunlan also called for optimizing the nucleic acid testing and speeding up the construction of makeshift hospitals.
Since the epidemic outbreak in Sanya City in early August, new cases have been soaring. From 6 a.m on August 6, Sanya was suddenly under static management without prior warning. The external railway and maritime transportation were interrupted, like in a city lockdown. The flights were canceled, many tourists boarded and sat in the cabin before being kicked off the plane. 80,000 passengers were stranded in Sanya and could not return home. Some people went directly to the airport and slept on the ground. Dissatisfied tourists shouted their demands, “Go home.”
Xinhua News Agency reported on August 13 that Hainan has arranged for passengers to leave the island. As of 6 a.m on the same day, Haikou Meilan Airport transported about 1,500 stranded passengers, and Sanya Phoenix Airport with over 7,300; less than 9,000 people in total.
According to Caixin, many passengers reported that the number of outbound flights from Haikou Airport was scarce.
Hong Kong media “Sing Tao Daily” reported on August 14 that some tourists stranded in Haikou said, “Flights have been canceled and have been forced to refund the tickets 5 or 6 times. So far, they have not completed the refund.”
Hainan Provincial Department of Tourism, deputy director Wang Liming, said on August 13 that the progress does not meet the passengers’ expectations, “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Chengdu man forced to stay in Hainan on his business trip
On August 15, Mr. Lin told the Epoch Times reporter his story of him during his stay in Hainan. He went to Hainan on a business trip from Chengdu to Haikou on July 31, and took the high-speed rail to Wanning that night. He took his wife and children to travel with him.
They were in Wanning from July 31 to August 2, and arrived in Sanya on August 3. On August 4, they learned that there was an epidemic in Sanya, and they returned to Wanning that same afternoon.
On August 7, Wanning closed the city. All public services, including restaurants, many supermarkets, and shops, were closed around 2 p.m.
“We have been doing nucleic acid daily since the 5th, but since the city closed on the 7th, the street health centers have stopped operating. The daily nucleic acid point is not fixed, and I don’t know where to do the nucleic test. For those stranded, no one informs us, and no one actively contacts us. I can’t buy anything to eat, and there are no takeaways. There are one or two scattered, but the things are very expensive.”
Mr. Lin said that they lived in a homestay in a village in Jiji Town, Wanning. Seventeen or eighteen people lived together, and they could only rely on some supplies hoarded by their host to solve the eating problem.
Between August 7 and August 10, public bicycles could be used as transportation to the nucleic acid points. However, from the afternoon of August 10, public transportation was suspended, so they had to walk for the nucleic acid test every day, and it took about 40 minutes for each distance. However, since August 12, the village has not allowed outsiders to do nucleic acid tests in the village for fear of infection. And the local authority has not arranged any place for other localities’ citizens to do nucleic acid tests.
“We contacted the village committee and Tourism Bureau, made countless calls, and finally, they let us in for a short talk.”
Mr. Lin said that the current policy is that tourists must have at least five negatives in seven days before leaving the island. “We worry that the policies keep changing, so we do it every day, and we don’t know when we can leave. But the nucleic acid test carried out on day eight has so far yielded no results.”
Mr. Lin said they later found that tourists could leave the island and bought a ticket for Sunday, August 14. On August 13, Sun Chunlan visited Hainan. Sun Chunlan talked about 150,000 tourists stranded in Hainan, and she asked the Hainan authorities for the stranded to leave promptly. Wanning’s official only responded, “But no one contacted us on the 13th, and we couldn’t contact anyone.
“We got the ticket at 12:25 noon on the 14th. We received a message from the airline at 11 p.m on the 13th, saying our flight was canceled for public safety reasons, but we received another message after 9 a.m on the next day, saying that the flight resumed, but we didn’t have time to get to the airport. Wanning is 200 km from Hainan airport and takes two hours by high-speed car. There was no car then, and it was too late. Less than half an hour later, the airline sent another text message saying that the flight was canceled again because of public safety.”
Mr. Lin said they were still worried that Chengdu would not receive them. “I called Chengdu on the 13th and asked about this. Chengdu said there was nothing to worry about. However, on the 15th, I received a message from a colleague of the company’s HR department, saying that Chengdu would not accept, which is inconsistent with the official news we have received.”
Mr. Lin added that he is lucky enough to be in a low-risk area, and there is still hope of returning. He does not know how the future policy could change. Once it is classified as a medium- and high-risk area, there is no chance of returning.
“We didn’t give up completely. I bought tickets for the 18th and 19th again, and we don’t know if the policy is any better.”
Mr. Lin complained about the increase in airfares. The average price was over a thousand yuan, but now over two thousand is considered cheap. They spend 50 yuan per person for each meal. He usually travels for a week. Two weeks have already passed.
“Wanning is currently in a state of shutdown. We can’t buy anything. Some people are doing business sneakily. We can only rely on this way, like thieves going to buy some food. No one sent it online. My wife needs tampons. She asked a few people which supermarket to buy things secretly. She could only go to buy it on the morning of the 15th.”
Mr. Lin said they don’t have much left to eat now and can only live on the remaining bread in the future.
He explained it takes half a day to find out where COVID testing can be done and at least half a day to walk to the testing point. He runs around every day on the way to get tested. He is not scared of any virus; he is scared of man-made obstacles.
On the evening of August 14, he posted more than 2,500 words on Weibo; his post was deleted in less than 5 minutes. He took some more pictures and posted them on Weibo. Netizens could see them but could not spread them out. It is believed that the account is restricted. The voice of truth cannot be spread.
Mr. Lin believes that the level of urban management in Wanning is very poor. After the city closed, the problems of living, traveling, and returning home, have not progressed. However, if the authorities do not close the city, they will be punished. The officials don’t want to act indiscriminately. When Sun Chunlan came to inspect, they made some moves, but when Sun left, nothing changed.
Mr. Lin said that he is now pessimistic and did not expect that there would be so many obstacles along his family’s trip, and felt hopeless as they are all man-made obstacles.