For the second consecutive day, China reported no new case of coronavirus (Covid-19) domestic transmission, a sign some experts said, that indicates the country has passed the outbreak peak.
China’s fight against the coronavirus, however, continues at the borders. It is a focused battle against overseas travellers, some of whom could be returning to the country with the disease, and have the potential to spread it in communities.
Until Thursday midnight, at least 228 cases of overseas Covid-19 cases had been reported, the majority in Beijing.
Beijing is also laying down the protocol of how to prevent the spread. It has implemented step-by-step measures to sift through incoming overseas travellers, check them for infection, separate the infected and dispatch all to 14-day self-paid quarantines, mostly at government-designated hotels.
Following Beijing, other cities are implementing similar protocols.
“Several airports in China, including Beijing and Guangzhou, have introduced new procedures for incoming travellers from overseas, including medical screening on arrival. The procedures may take place at the airport terminal itself or in designated screening centres, and takes around nine hours on average to complete,” the Indian embassy in Beijing said in a statement on Friday.
The process begins soon after disembarkation.
Incoming passengers need to file a health declaration before they are allowed to enter the quarantine route where they have their body temperatures checked.
In Beijing, passengers are then taken to the China International Exhibition Centre, a massive exhibition complex some 6 km from the airport, in government buses for registration and the second round of physical checks.
Those found to display no symptoms at the exhibition centre, and are travelling to other cities in China, are escorted by their own city government personnel to airports or train stations to continue their journeys. (They will be quarantined for 14 days at their final destination.)
It is different for those who intend to stay in Beijing. “On rigorous assessment and screening, people aged 70 and above, minors aged 14 and pregnant women and those with underlying conditions who are assessed as not suitable for quarantine at designated places may be allowed to stay at home for observation. These are the only exemptions from 14 days quarantine at a Chinese government-designated location for overseas travellers entering Beijing,” the Indian embassy statement added.
“Those who meet the criteria for home observation should apply for such observation to their residential communities prior to entering China. Those who fail to submit the application in advance or whose applications have not been approved will be sent to designated places for quarantine,” the statement said.
According to official statements quoted by state media, Beijing has set up 149 “medical observation sites”, mostly small and medium category hotels, for overseas travellers to undergo a 14-day medical observation.
The self-paid package includes a single room, daily and regular health check-ups, psychological counselling; meals have to be eaten in the room.
The cost could be in the range of Rs. 2000 to Rs.5000 per day.
People with infection symptoms will be transferred to Beijing Ditan Hospital for a nucleic acid test, which determines whether the swan sample contains the virus.
“Ditan hospital has screened at least 1,600 passengers in the 18 days up to Tuesday morning,” local media reports said.
“In preparation for a growing number of imported cases in the capital, Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital, at the center of SARS treatment in 2003, reopened on March 16 after 17 years,” the report added.
Some overseas flights with Beijing as their destination are being diverted to other Chinese cities surrounding Beijing, including Tianjin, Hohhot and Taiyuan to ease the pressure on the capital.
Similar measures of quarantine are being put in place in those cities.
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