Tropical storm Mulan churns towards Covid-stricken Hainan island


A guard patrols the Marriott beachside hotel amid a Covid-19 lockdown in Sanya, Hainan, China on Aug 9, 2022 in this still image obtained from social media video. Araf/Instagram @arafsadventures via Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters): Strong winds from Tropical Storm Mulan are expected to whip across the South China Sea towards Hainan Island on Wednesday (Aug10), raising the possibility of disruption to mass testing on the holiday island that is grappling with a big Covid-19 outbreak.

At 10am (0200 GMT), Mulan was estimated to be about 400km (250 miles) southwest of Hong Kong and was forecast to move northwest at about 18 kph (11 mph) towards southern Guangdong province and Hainan Island, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

The Central Meteorological Observatory issued a typhoon yellow warning and expects the seventh storm of the year to make landfall at around noon along the coast from Wenchang in Hainan Island to Zhanjiang in Guangdong province, most likely landing around the Leizhou Peninsula.

Wind speeds of up to 62 kph (28 mph) are expected, said the Hong Kong Observatory, which raised a No. 3 strong wind signal.

Gale force winds are expected until the early afternoon on Thursday affecting most of the South China Sea, Qiongzhou Strait, Beibu Bay and Guangdong coast, Guangxi coast, Hainan Island, as well as the waters near the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and Macclesfield Bank.

China activated a level-IV emergency response for dangerous winds and heavy rains, media reported.

In Macau, weather forecasters upgraded the warning signal as Mulan neared the gambling hub. Schools were suspended for the day, media reported.

Mulan could hamper coronavirus testing on Hainan, which is trying to curb an outbreak that has stranded peak-season tourists in what is known as "Hawaii of China".

A large contingent of health workers has been sent to the island to help.

Hainan Island reported 1,314 symptomatic and 585 asymptomatic Covid cases between Aug 1 and Aug 9.

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