NYU student flees COVID lockdowns in Shanghai, only to be trapped in Hainan

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Brian Hall fled Shanghai in June to avoid another lockdown at his residential compound, escaping to the tropical Chinese tourist island of Hainan where he could work remotely as a public health professor after undertaking 10 days of quarantine.

Hall, who worked at New York University in Shanghai for the past two years, is now stuck in Sanya, Hainan’s main tourist hub, unsure when he can get out.

“It has become impossible to leave the city. The hotel where I am staying is closed and guests are not allowed to leave our rooms as per city instructions,” Hall told Reuters by email.


Hainan province is one of several regions in China that had seen relatively few cases for more than two years and are now battling outbreaks, raising the risk of continued tight restrictions as the economy weakens. .

As China sticks to its strict “zero-COVID” policy, a delivery man has to pass deliveries over a barrier of a locked neighborhood in Sanya, Hainan province, China, August 6, 2022.

“My emotions naturally range from utter denial and disbelief to anger, sadness and ultimately despair,” said Hall, who like millions in Shanghai underwent a strict lockdown two months earlier. This year.

“It’s not so much the lockdown here, but the memories of the Shanghai lockdown that have revisited me, and the feeling of unease about what the fall will bring to Shanghai and elsewhere.”

Hainan, which recorded only two local symptomatic COVID-19 cases last year, has already reported more than 1,800 locally transmitted infections in August.

Though weak by global standards, authorities on the island have locked down millions of residents, state media reported, as part of China’s ‘dynamic COVID-zero’ policy that aims to eradicate outbreaks. as soon as possible. People are only allowed out for certain reasons such as COVID testing, grocery shopping, and essential work roles.

About 178,000 tourists were stranded in Hainan, including about 57,000 in Sanya, state media reported.


Hall, who has to stay in his room and depends on the hotel for his daily needs, including food and water, said he couldn’t predict what was likely to happen, but just had to take it as it comes.

“We must remain flexible in our plans and able to accept these disruptions if we want to live and work here.”


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