As Halloween nightmares go, it’s going to take a lot to beat this.
Some 34,000 fun-seekers were thrown into lockdown at Shanghai’s Disneyland Sunday night, after a single case of COVID-19 prompted police to blockade the exits and test every single person in the park before allowing them to leave.
It’s the latest example of the harsh measures China is taking as it pursues the elusive goal of zero COVID within its borders. Beijing is battling a fresh wave of the deadly contagion that has led to more than 300 confirmed infections in 14 provinces and regions in recent weeks.
The snap lockdown at the so-called Happiest Place on Earth saw anxious guests lining up until midnight outside makeshift tents staffed by health workers in hazmat suits, while fireworks exploded over the park’s centerpiece Enchanted Storybook Castle.
China’s official English language media outlet, China Daily, sought to put a positive spin on events by cheerfully describing the scene on Twitter as comprising “Nucleic acid tests under the fireworks!”
While such measures would likely be seen as draconian in the West, the reaction was relatively mild by national Chinese standards. Guests have, for example, been allowed to return to their own homes to await follow-up tests rather than being sent to state-run quarantine facilities.
No such courtesies were extended last week to the occupants of two high-speed trains that were stopped on the tracks heading to Beijing after two staff were identified as close contacts of confirmed cases. An estimated 344 passengers and two crew were whisked off the rails by hazmat-suited health officials who ordered all passengers to don medical-grade N95 face masks. According to Global Times, the passengers are now part-way through a week-long regime of centralized quarantine and testing.
In Jiangxi province, CNN reports, one district “turned all traffic lights to red to discourage traffic after a single case was reported on Saturday.” The bizarre ruling was withdrawn Sunday.
Of the 33,863 people tested at Shanghai Disneyland and its associated Disneytown shopping complex on Sunday, CNN said, not one positive result has so far been returned.
The site and the subway station that serves it are due to remain closed Monday and Tuesday, the park said, according to CNN, “to follow the requirement of COVID-19 prevention and control.”
In a sobering reminder of the reality of the pandemic, Johns Hopkins University said Monday there have now been over 5 million coronavirus-related deaths globally. In the U.S., 745,836 people have died of COVID. In China, the figure stands at just 4,849, Johns Hopkins says.