Xi’an builds testing center at airport after international arrivals diverted from Beijing
Published: Mar 23, 2020 08:58 PM

Customs officers inspect an inbound flight at the Capital International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, March 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)

Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province has built a nucleic acid testing center that can process 3,000 passengers a day at its airport amid pressure brought by imported COVID-19 cases, after it was designated to receive international flights destined for Beijing.

The Xi'an government allocated 30 container houses and dispatched medical professionals overnight to screen international arrivals at the airport, according to a Monday government press conference on the city's epidemic prevention and control. 

The city also plans to expand its transit center by 7,000 square meters to hold passengers waiting for transfer and following quarantine procedures. The new center will be divided into a waiting zone, buffer zone and testing zone, will be equipped with Wi-Fi and offer water and simple food. Construction is expected to be completed in seven days.

Xi'an is one of the 12 cities designated to receive international flights diverted from Beijing; others include Taiyuan in North China's Shanxi Province and Zhengzhou in Central China's Henan Province. 

China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) on Sunday required all international passengers to go through border control and undergo quarantine inspection in these 12 cities before heading to their final destination of Beijing.

Such method will help curb overseas infections from spreading in Beijing, guarantee the health and safety of international passengers heading for Beijing and improve the efficiency of border procedures, CAAC official Sun Shaohua said on Monday's press conference, noting Beijing has become a major battlefield to combat inflow infections amid overseas pandemic. 

Xi'an has arranged 30 interpreters to help clarify the epidemic-control process for international arrivals and allocated more than 500 hotel rooms as places for them to undergo medical observation. 

Analysts noted such move is necessary considering Beijing, as China's political center and an important economic hub, faces a large number of inbound visitors.

But cities receiving diverted flights must be extremely careful, as a minor gap in their work could put local people in great danger, because many of the 12 cities do not have rich medical resources or high administrative capabilities that can deal with a local small outbreak, a Beijing-based public health expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday. 

Beijing reported 15 imported cases from Sunday midnight to Monday noon, 12 from Spain, two from UK and one from Norway, taking the total to 122 in the city.