Stranded tourists prepare to board their flight at Sanya Phoenix International Airport in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, Aug. 9, 2022. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

First group of tourists stranded in China’s Sanya return home

A plane carrying 125 tourists took off at 4:28 p.m. Tuesday from Sanya, a coastal resort city in south China’s Hainan Province, bound for Xi’an in northwest China.

The tourists were stranded as a result of new COVID-19 clusters, and they were among the first group to return home.

Authorities in Sanya are moving fast to cater to the needs of 80,000-plus stranded tourists.

The Hainan COVID-19 prevention and control headquarters on Tuesday issued a notice elaborating on the requirements for the return of tourists stranded in the province. According to the notice, local authorities in Sanya will transfer tourists safely and in an orderly manner in different groups to avoid further transmission, following the evaluation of the infections and transmission risks of the tourists.

From Aug. 1 to noon on Aug. 9, Hainan logged 1,899 new infections of COVID-19.

Epidemiological investigations and gene sequencing analyses show that the current outbreak was caused by the Omicron subvariant BA.5., according to Jin Yuming, chief expert of the Hainan Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 across the world and is causing cluster infections in China, according to a Chinese health official last month.