Shanghai Disneyland tests 33K, closes 2 days over 1 contact

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Fireworks boomed as the visitors at Shanghai Disneyland waited for their COVID-19 test results, surrounded by healthcare workers dressed from head to toe in the white protective suits.

Shanghai Disneyland suddenly announced Sunday evening that they were no longer accepting any visitors and they were cooperating with an epidemiological investigation from another province. They then locked down the park, as Shanghai city healthcare workers and police rushed to the scene to conduct a mass testing.

The park is shut for Monday and Tuesday as they continue to cooperate with the pandemic prevention efforts, Shanghai Disneyland said in a notice on Monday.

The park’s sudden lockdown and temporary closure underscored just how serious China is about enforcing its zero-tolerance pandemic prevention strategy.

Globally, many countries have turned to living with the virus, whether out of choice or necessity, although as virus surges come and go, many face overburdened healthcare systems, and excess deaths.

In China, which has kept its borders sealed since March 2020, the policy response has been to cut the chain of transmission of the virus as quickly as possible. With a strict quarantine on arrival policy, the authorities have aimed to stamp out each local outbreak to zero — helping China keep its reported totals to relatively lows of 4,636 deaths out of 97,243 cases since the pandemic began.

The case that prompted Disneyland’s actions involved one individual whose illness was discovered in the nearby city of Hangzhou and had visited the theme park on Saturday, local media reported.

For hours on Sunday night, tens of thousands of families and visitors were stuck in the theme park, as they waited for a negative test result that would allow them to leave.

One Disney superfan, who gave her last name as Chen, said that she was inside the park when she heard the announcement to get tested at 5 p.m., but had taken it all in stride.

“No one complained, and everyone behaved really well,” she said. Chen said she holds an annual membership and visits the park at least once a month. She is waiting at a hotel for her second COVID test result before she is allowed to leave and go back to Beijing.

The city announced Monday morning that all 33,863 people who had been at the park over the weekend had tested negative for COVID-19. They will be asked to get tested again in the next two weeks and monitor their health.

Shanghai Disneyland is just the latest example of how far Chinese authorities will go to stop the spread of the virus.

Last Thursday, Beijing Railway authorities notified health authorities in Jinan to stop a train that was traveling from Shanghai to Beijing because one passenger was a close contact of someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

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 centralized quarantine, including the close contact.

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