Beijing escalates measures amid surge of imported COVID-19 cases

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/8 23:46:13

Deliveryman passes a package to a resident through locked gate in Beijing on February 5. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Beijing has upgraded control measures and kept close track of incoming travelers from abroad with plans tailored to each overseas arrival to curb the COVID-19 epidemic as the capital city reported consecutive "imported infections" since Thursday. 

Beijing reported two more new COVID-19 cases as of Saturday midnight, one from Italy and the other from Spain, bringing the total number of imported cases in the city to 13. All of them are from Iran, Italy and Spain.

At Beijing International Airport, passengers are asked to debark the plane in small batches. They have their temperatures measured and file a health situation card before passing the border control. 

A Beijing resident who returned from Switzerland on Sunday spent two hours between the plane landing to entering customs. 

The man surnamed Fan told the Global Times that the measures made him feel secure despite the inconvenience.  

"I received a phone call from the community where I live when I was waiting for my luggage, because I registered my trip information before I left Beijing weeks ago," Fan said. 

Chinese and foreigners who arrive in Beijing from South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan and other countries hit hard by COVID-19, will be quarantined for 14 days, the city authorities said on Tuesday. 

Officials stressed their plans would be tailored to each arriving individual from abroad.

International flight crew and passengers are told to wear masks throughout the journey and increase the frequency of in-flight temperature screening. 

Chinese observers warned that the imported cases generated a large number of close contacts who needed to be isolated for testing and observation.

The city government has also strengthened management at the community level. 

Some returned people who finished their two-week quarantine were required to begin a second quarantine if they received any roommates or family members returning to Beijing. 

A Beijing-based white collar worker told the Global Times that she has been asked to isolate herself for 14 days after her community uncovered that her mother returned to Beijing in early March.

One community in Chaoyang district announced after March 6 it would be locking the gates to its compound to all comers after 11 pm.

Beijing has a zero tolerance approach toward behavior deemed as hampering epidemic control. 

Four coronavirus patients returning from Italy were investigated by Beijing police for allegedly obstructing the epidemic prevention and control work after they took fever pills before boarding the flight and lied about their health at border control on Wednesday, police said Saturday. 

As of Saturday, Beijing reported 428 coronavirus cases and eight deaths.  

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