Coronavirus outbreak

Beijing moves to curb imported cases

Passengers wearing protective face masks walk with their luggage as they arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport on March 2, 2020.
Passengers wearing protective face masks walk with their luggage as they arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport on March 2, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Travellers from affected areas or who have links with infected people will be quarantined

As the number of coronavirus infections drops sharply in China, Beijing is beefing up checks at its borders to prevent the virus from being brought into the country.

Those coming from virus-stricken regions or have come into contact with infected people will be subjected to quarantine, said its Customs authority, although it has not stated which countries are on the list.

This comes as the number of infections outside China surpasses that within its borders over the week, with the disease spreading rapidly to more than 60 countries.

Cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen have had imported cases of the disease known as Covid-19.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said yesterday that the local authorities will adjust their measures aimed at foreigners "dynamically".

"We treat foreign citizens and domestic citizens equally and do not discriminate in the implementation of our control measures," he told reporters.

Travellers entering China have to fill in a health declaration form and have their temperature taken.

Those who returned from Japan and South Korea in recent days have reported that they were asked to isolate themselves at home for 14 days.

Passengers on an Aeroflot flight that arrived in Beijing from Moscow last Saturday were also quarantined at a hotel as an infected Chinese national travelling from Iran was on the plane.

Yesterday, it was reported that passengers on another Aeroflot flight faced a similar fate after four Chinese nationals on board were suspected of being infected.

The National Health Commission said yesterday that there were 202 new cases on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since Jan 22.

 
 

The total number of infections on the mainland now stands at 80,026, with 2,912 of them fatal.

There have been about 9,000 cases outside China, including more than 130 deaths.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that it will evacuate its citizens from countries with severe outbreaks if the situation worsens. It has so far arranged 10 flights and brought back 1,314 Chinese citizens from overseas.

With the sharp decline in new infections, the city of Wuhan has closed its first makeshift hospital after its last patients were discharged. Since the outbreak, it had set up 16 temporary hospitals that provided 13,000 beds.

Nearly 20 provinces across the country have also lowered their emergency response levels over the past week.

Meanwhile, officials from Hubei's justice department, prison and public security bureaus have been sacked or punished after an infected inmate managed to travel from Wuhan to Beijing after completing her sentence.

The incident caused an uproar among netizens, who questioned how the 61-year-old woman could leave Wuhan, which has been locked down for more than a month.

An investigation team yesterday released its findings, which showed prison officers had driven her to a checkpoint and allowed her daughter to pick her up in a car to travel to Beijing, despite the inmate's exposure to an infected prison guard.

More than 500 inmates have been infected in prisons in Hubei, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, prompting the Justice Ministry to announce yesterday it was sending 28 supervision teams to prisons across the country to ensure these facilities implement strict coronavirus control measures.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2020, with the headline 'Beijing moves to curb imported cases'. Print Edition | Subscribe