On Sunday, a woman who visited Shanghai Disneyland tested positive for COVID-19, prompting a partial lockdown.
Shanghai Disneyland closed its indoor arenas on Sunday evening and barred new visitors from entering the park. Only a few outdoor roller coasters and other attractions were still up and running. Even the park employees and government officials quietly shut the gates, attempting to prevent anyone from leaving without passing a COVID-19 test.
In addition, officials shut down a subway line that connects the park to the city and offloaded 220 buses to transport visitors back to their homes for self-isolation.
The park’s partial closure resulted in bizarre images that went viral on Chinese social media. Hundreds of people dressed in full medical protective gear were seen testing small children and other park visitors.
“I never thought that the longest queue in Disneyland would be for a nucleic acid test,” one guest wrote on social media.
On Sunday, Disneyland announced that each visitor would need to take another COVID-19 test on Monday, while Shanghai authorities announced on Monday that anyone who visited the park over the weekend should stay home for at least two days and have their health monitored for two weeks.
On Monday, the Shanghai government announced that it had tested over 33,000 people suspected of being involved in the Disneyland outbreak. Fortunately, there were no positive results. Nonetheless, Shanghai Disneyland has announced that it will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, possibly longer.
“We will notify guests as soon as we have a confirmed date to resume operations,” Disney said in a statement.
Besides that, officials promised refunds or exchanges to any visitors who were inconvenienced by the closure. Over the weekend, another 100,000 visitors to the park will be tested.
China’s immediate response to a possible outbreak at Shanghai Disneyland exemplifies the country’s ongoing pursuit of a COVID-zero strategy, which does not withstand any COVID-19 infections and uses restrictive measures like wide-range lockdowns mass testing, and rigorous contact tracing to prevent any spread.
Early in the pandemic, China, where the COVID-19 virus first originated, closed its borders to prevent disease spread. To keep the infection rate low, the country has closed its borders since March 2020, causing economic disruption on several occasions. As a result, it reported 92 new cases on Monday, which stands in stark contrast to the numbers reported by other countries.
The country’s COVID-zero strategy has been highly effective; however, it is questionable how long it will maintain it. Moreover, even a high vaccination rate hasn’t convinced the government to change its mind. In China, 76.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 57.9 percent in the United States and 67 percent in the European Union.