China continues to cling to its stringent Covid-zero strategy with more than 30,000 Disneyland visitors in Shanghai barred from leaving after a single case had visited the park.
The nation's draconian measures amid the pandemic have been highly publicised, yet as parts of the world begin to open up with widespread vaccine coverage, the Communist Party of China is facing mounting pressure over how long it can go before relaxing its relentless elimination strategy.
Yet its stance was unwavering on Sunday evening when authorities shut the gates of Disneyland in Shanghai in order to test thousands of families visiting the popular tourist attraction.
The panic was sparked by the visit of a reveller on Saturday who later tested positive in Hangzhou, roughly 150km away, with public transport services to the park halted.
In bizarre scenes shared on Chinese social media, fireworks erupted into the night sky as PPE-clad health workers swabbed the thousands trapped in the park.
Photos show the large crowd inside the park crammed gathered together as they wait to be tested.
On Monday, health authorities announced all 33,863 people who had been at the park over the weekend had tested negative for the virus.
In case anyone needs a reminder for how surreal Covid Year Two still is...check Shanghai Disneyland. pic.twitter.com/C11Jk0lez0
— Fu Beimeng📹 (@BeimengFu) October 31, 2021
However visitors must take a second test and monitor for symptoms.
One female visitor from Beijing said she must wait at her hotel until she receives her second test result before she can return to the capital.
She said despite the inconvenience caused for visitors, everyone behaved "really well" and there were no complaints.
The park will remain closed throughout Tuesday.
China's Covid-zero strategy under the spotlight
Chinese nationals are now well versed in their government's drastic measures when the virus emerges in the community, with mass testing and targeted lockdowns standard with any detection of local transmission.
Last Thursday, Beijing Railway authorities notified health authorities in Jinan to stop a train that was travelling from Shanghai to Beijing because one passenger was a close contact of someone who had tested positive for Covid.
Jinan health authorities then sent health care workers, transportation workers and police rushing to the station to quarantine the passengers and disinfect the train. They sent 212 people into centralised quarantine, including the close contact.
China's international border remains tightly shut despite its neighbours beginning to open up.
However experts and even Chinese state media has begun to question how practical such a stance is, particularly with how infectious the Delta variant is.
The Global Times recently urged Beijing to allow tourists to travel during its Golden Week holiday despite a cluster of cases in the nation's southeast.
China has so far vaccinated 75 per cent of its adult population, yet it is expected to be months before Beijing even considers living with the virus.
Zhengming Chen, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford, told CNN China's strategy was not sustainable.
"At some stage you have to open, you have to actually allow the cases to go up but in a manageable way," he said.
"You can't just permanently lockdown because the virus is there circulating."
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