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2021-11-01 08:32:25  + video 

People dressed in personal protective equipment at the Shanghai Disney Resort were not in Halloween costume Sunday but conducting coronavirus testing on thousands of visitors and staff before they exited amid a COVID-19 scare.

The theme park sounded the alarm after two visitors who reportedly visited the park Saturday were identified as a close contact of an individual who tested positive for the virus. The two were informed on their train ride home to the city of Shangrao in the eastern Jiangxi province and sent to an isolation center at the nearest stop, Hangzhou — one of them later tested positive for COVID-19.

On Sunday evening, Shanghai Disney announced it would temporarily suspend operations to “cooperate with the pandemic investigation request in other provinces and cities.” All visitors were required to take a nucleic acid test before leaving the park, as well as a second test after 24 hours.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, 33,863 people who were at Disneyland and Disneytown over the weekend had tested negative for the virus, according to the city government.

A visitor, surnamed Gu, told Sixth Tone that many people inside the park were calm, and all outdoor activities, including parades and fireworks, continued as scheduled, even after the announcement. Video footage of visitors standing in line to get their COVID test under the fireworks-lit sky has since gone viral on Chinese social media.

A viral video shows visitors at Shanghai Disneyland undergoing nucleic acid testing amid fireworks. From Weibo

“The atmosphere was still festive,” said Gu, adding that the virus testing was well organized. “Most people came here for the Halloween carnival that takes place once a year. We don’t want our joy to be cut short.”

The immediate mass virus testing at Shanghai Disney showcases the swift actions — and sometimes extreme measures — authorities undertake to prevent virus spillovers, as the country witnesses a fresh outbreak. On Sunday, China reported 59 local infections, most of them in the country’s north, according to the National Health Commission.

Authorities have been on high alert, as at least nine provinces and regions, including Beijing, have reported over 400 cases since the latest outbreak started in mid-October. Officials in the Chinese capital, which witnessed a surge in coronavirus infections over the past two weeks, said no local infections were reported Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, people lined up in droves outside hospitals past midnight on Sunday after the city mandated compulsory coronavirus testing for all who had visited Disneyland over the weekend. They were also required to immediately notify their residential committees, companies, and schools.

Shanghai Disney Resort and Disneytown will be closed Monday and Tuesday “in order to follow the requirement of pandemic prevention and control.” The theme park was last closed for over three months starting January 2020 in the initial days of the pandemic.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Visitors at Shanghai Disneyland receive COVID-19 test in Shanghai, Oct. 31, 2021. From @新闻晨报 on Weibo)