China keeps close eye on ports of entry to cut Covid-19 risks

Travellers lining up to board a flight in China on Sept 30, 2021. China will continue to guide citizens not to go abroad for non-urgent and non-essential reasons.
Travellers lining up to board a flight in China on Sept 30, 2021. China will continue to guide citizens not to go abroad for non-urgent and non-essential reasons.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - China is on high alert at its ports of entry as strict policies on travel in and out of the country are enforced to reduce Covid-19 risks amid a fresh domestic outbreak, less than 100 days from the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The National Immigration Administration said on Thursday (Nov 4) that it would continue to guide citizens not to go abroad for non-urgent and non-essential reasons.

It also vowed to strictly implement Covid-19 restrictions on the movement of people involved in the Winter Olympics in and out of China.

China aims to ensure no outbreaks among people arriving from overseas for the Winter Olympics, according to a recent state television report, citing an official on the Beijing organising committee for the event. The authorities will strive to avoid failures in virus control for the Games that would then disrupt the event or lead to clusters among residents.

China reported 104 new confirmed Covid-19 cases for Wednesday, compared with 109 a day earlier, the country's health authority said on Thursday. Of the new infections, 87 were locally transmitted cases, compared with 93 a day earlier.

Since mid-October, more than 700 locally transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms have been reported in 19 province-level regions, with the geographical spread of the cases triggering a flurry of curbs on tourism and leisure businesses under Beijing's zero-tolerance policy.

The escalating restrictions come after the number of infections in the Chinese capital rose persistently over the past few days, while the current outbreak powered by the Delta variant has reached 19 out 31 mainland provinces, the broadest spread in China since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.

The further spread of the virus in Beijing also prompted city officials to order snap lockdowns of two schools and the suspension of in-class teaching at 16 other educational institutions as they sought to prevent outbreaks among teenagers and young children.

While Beijing has seen bigger outbreaks in the past, the latest resurgence - with cases reaching nearly 40 - comes just days ahead of a major summit for the ruling Communist Party that will lay the ground for extending President Xi Jinping's term as leader.

Officials say many cases in north-western parts of China and a separate cluster in north-eastern Heilongjiang province traced back to sources brought in from outside the country.

Checks on flights, ships as well as cargo at land ports will be strictly implemented, the immigration authority said, adding that it will adjust measures on foreigners arriving in China in accordance with changes in the Covid-19 situation, without providing details.

While some countries have removed quarantine requirements for vaccinated inbound travellers, China still insists that most people arriving from outside the mainland be quarantined for weeks, regardless of their vaccination status.

As at Wednesday, mainland China had 97,527 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 4,636 deaths.