Coronavirus: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang seeks tighter control of cross-border infection

A passenger arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport on March 5, 2020. Beijing mandates a 14-day quarantine for inbound travellers from overseas coronavirus hotspots, in addition to related quarantine checks and inquiries. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday (March 6) called for heightened measures to prevent the import or export of Covid-19 cases, saying that region-specific and multi-level health testing approaches must be adopted to ensure the safe and orderly flow of people across borders.

Mr Li made the remarks while visiting Beijing Capital International Airport, one of the world's busiest airports. Airport officials told him about efforts to ensure smooth air traffic and implementation of quarantine measures to contain the epidemic.

Mr Li said Covid-19 is spreading quickly outside China, and coping with the outbreak has become a common challenge for the international community. He underlined the need to step up cooperation in containing the outbreak with international organisations, countries and regions, especially in the control and prevention in air transport sector.

In doing so, China maintains responsibility for passengers and people of different countries and displays a responsible manner in international cooperation, he noted.

It is important that the airport - as a key gateway to China - adopts effective prevention and control measures, including tiered and by-category health testing, to strictly prevent the flow of infections in or out of the country, he stressed.

The remarks came as China on Thursday reported 17 new confirmed cases outside Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, among which 16 were imported from overseas. The country has so far reported 36 Covid-19 cases from overseas, the National Health Commission said.

The rising number of imported cases has spurred a number of Chinese cities to step up quarantine measures for inbound passengers.

Beijing mandates a 14-day quarantine for inbound travellers from overseas coronavirus hot spots, in addition to related quarantine checks and inquiries.

Qingtian county in eastern China's Zhejiang province, which has reported eight imported cases from Italy, is closely tracking overseas Chinese who have returned or intend to return to the county, according to senior county official Zhou Heping.

Home to 330,000 people living abroad, Qingtian requested returnees to report health conditions and previous trips, and go into quarantine.

Mr Hu Haifeng, Party secretary of Lishui, said on Wednesday that containing imported risk is the top priority in Qingtian. "We should try every means to remind overseas Chinese compatriots of self-protection awareness, and show our care and support," Mr Hu said.

Over 40 medical workers have been summoned to provide online medical services for Qingtian natives living abroad. Qingtian's government is working with overseas Chinese associations to donate face masks to Chinese people in Italy.

Teams were dispatched to airports in Wenzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai to transport locals returning from overseas to quarantine facilities.

As of Wednesday, over 700 overseas Chinese had flown back to Qingtian, with over 60 per cent from Italy. All 15 hotels in the county have been designated as quarantine sites.

In Shanghai, three new imported cases of Covid-19 from Iran were reported on Friday. Due to the strict measures the city has adopted for inbound travellers who have been to severely virus-stricken areas, including Iran, Italy and South Korea since Wednesday, the three infected patients were put under observation immediately upon arrival at the airport and did not go to any other place.

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