China has now recorded 81,054 coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak, and 3261 deaths. Image by AP PHOTO

health

China acts to curb rise in imported cases

2020-03-22 21:44:18

China has reported 46 new cases of coronavirus, the fourth straight day with an increase, and with all but one of those imported from overseas, it is taking measures to intercept cases from abroad.

While China says it has drastically reduced the number of domestically transmitted cases – the one reported on Sunday was the first in four days – it is seeing a steady rise in imported cases, mostly from Chinese people returning from overseas.

In a sign of how seriously China is taking the threat of imported cases, all international flights due to arrive in Beijing starting on Monday will first land at another airport, where passengers will undergo virus screening, government agencies said on Sunday, in an expansion of existing measures.

International flights that were scheduled to arrive in the capital will land instead at one of 12 airports. Passengers who clear screening will then be permitted to reboard the plane, which will then fly to Beijing, the regulator said.

Separately, Shanghai and Guangzhou both announced that all arriving international passengers will undergo an RNA test to screen for coronavirus, expanding a program that previously only applied to those coming from heavily hit countries.

Among the new cases from abroad reported on Sunday, a record 14 were in the financial hub of Shanghai and 13 were in Beijing, a decline from 21 the previous day.

The new locally transmitted case was in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou and was also the first known case where the infection of a local person was linked to the arrival of someone from overseas, according to Guangdong province.

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times newspaper, called for all cities in China to implement 14-day quarantines for people arriving from abroad.

He also called for quarantine policies to apply to people from Hong Kong and Macau as well, he said on his Weibo account on Sunday.

“I am worried that there are similar cases to the Guangzhou one existing in other parts of the country. There were reports previously that people coming back from abroad returned to their homes in Shanghai without any obstacles,” Hu said.

“It matters to the overall situation of China’s next prevention and control efforts if we can plug the leaks.”

The Global Times is a tabloid published by the Ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

The latest figures from China’s National Health Commission bring total reported coronavirus cases in the country to 81,054, with 3261 deaths, including six on Saturday. 

On Saturday, China reported 41 new coronavirus cases for the previous day, all of them imported.

Of all 97 imported cases as of end-Saturday, 92 of them are Chinese nationals and 51 are Chinese students returning from studying abroad, said Gao Xiaojun, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Health Commission during a press conference on Sunday.

The Beijing health commission announced separately on its website it had two more imported cases on Sunday, bringing the city’s total number of imported cases to 99 as of Sunday noon.

China is trying to revive an economy that is widely expected to contract deeply in the current quarter, with life slowly returning to normal in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, albeit with everyone wearing masks in public.

Still, numerous shops and restaurants remain shut – many have gone out of business – and factories and other workplaces are still not operating at full capacity.