Diverting capital’s flights ‘key to deter second outbreak’

By Xu Keyue and Wan Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/25 23:53:40

Photo: cnsphoto

Diverting international flights bound for Beijing to 12 other airports to guard the capital city against imported COVID-19 cases is a reasonable move and key part of the national virus prevention strategy, which is essential to avoid a second outbreak, experts say. 

Such arrangement would not place much pressure on other parts of the country as long as timely quarantine and testing measures are in place, experts said, in response to recent netizens' concerns aroused by reports that imported COVID-19 cases were detected in other cities after consecutive days of local zero growth. 

Starting Monday, all international flights to Beijing were rerouted to one of 12 cities, prior to landing in the capital, China's Civil Aviation Administration said on Sunday. 

Among the 12 cities, those in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in North China reported two imported confirmed infections on Tuesday.

A further 19 imported infections were found in Shanghai on Tuesday, while only five were found in Beijing.

"Sharing the pressure, united as one to prevent and control the epidemic, is the only approach to win the battle," Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Zhu noted if the epidemic spreads in Beijing, which is the political and cultural center with a large immigrant population, the second wave of the outbreak in the whole country would be inevitable.

Wang Peiyu, deputy head of Peking University's school of public health, said that the move can effectively share the burden, accelerate customs clearance, reduce possible cross-infections and avoid cluster infections

 "Why does Beijing share its incoming passengers from abroad out? That's not fair," said a netizen, among similar concerned voices online, worrying that the less-developed public health system in regions outside of Beijing could not defend themselves well enough.

Commenting on such concerns, Wang explained that the diversion of incoming passengers to the 12 entry points would not cause heavy pressure on the local medical resources as each point would at most share very few confirmed imported cases.

"All the 12 cities should conduct full quarantine inspection and tests for all passengers from abroad, which could avoid an imported epidemic from spreading."

A staff member, who is responsible for accepting and arranging people from abroad coming to Beijing and works in the new China International Exhibition Center in the suburb of Beijing, a temporary transit point for overseas travelers, told the Global Times that before the move, they received an average of 6,000 to 7,000 inbound passengers a day, which was overly stressful.

He said now the passengers have decreased more than half.



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