BEIJING (REUTERS) – Strong winds from tropical storm Mulan are expected to whip across the South China Sea towards Hainan on Wednesday (Aug 10), raising the possibility of disruptions to mass testing on the holiday island that is grappling with a big Covid-19 outbreak.

At 10am, Mulan was estimated to be about 400km south-west of Hong Kong and was forecast to move north-west at about 18kmh towards southern Guangdong province and Hainan, 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 to Zhanjiang in Guangdong province, most likely landing around the Leizhou Peninsula.

Wind speeds of up to 62 kmh 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 (Aug 11) affecting most of the South China Sea, Qiongzhou Strait, Beibu Bay and Guangdong coast, Guangxi coast, Hainan, as well as the waters near the Spratly islands, Paracel islands and Macclesfield Bank.

China has activated a level-IV emergency response for dangerous winds and heavy rains.

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

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 the “Hawaii of China”.

A large contingent of health workers has been sent to the island to help. Hainan reported 1,314 symptomatic and 585 asymptomatic Covid-19 cases between Aug 1 and Aug 9.