Cities in China have continued to step up checks on all incoming travellers in a bid to curb mounting inbound infections, as the country reported another 39 cases, all from overseas.
The number of such cases has climbed in the past weeks to over 350 – mostly travellers entering Beijing and Shanghai.
On Sunday, those two cities reported 10 imported infections each, the National Health Commission said yesterday. Fujian and Guangdong had six each.
Shanghai yesterday began testing all incoming travellers for the coronavirus. This previously applied only to those coming from a list of 24 virus-stricken nations. The financial centre has recorded 66 imported cases so far.
Guangzhou, too, has announced it will screen all inbound travellers for the virus, while China’s northernmost province Heilongjiang on Sunday beefed up its screening measures by subjecting all people arriving from overseas to nucleic acid testing and a 14-day centralised quarantine.
Beijing, which has borne the brunt of imported infections, yesterday diverted all international flights to other airports in China like Tianjin, Dalian and Qingdao, where passengers will first be given a health check before reboarding the plane for the capital city. Singapore Airlines flights will first stop at Nanjing.
Beijing already has the toughest measures for incoming foreigners and Chinese, requiring all of them to be quarantined for 14 days at designated hotels.
Shanghai has also told those coming from 24 of the most severely hit nations to serve quarantine either at home or in a centralised facility. Yesterday, it dropped Japan from the list and added the Philippines. Others on the list are: South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Australia, Malaysia, Greece, the Czech Republic, Finland, Qatar, Canada and Saudi Arabia.
The stringent quarantine measures in Beijing have caused some anxiety among those returning, especially expatriates with families in tow. Singaporean Robin Choo, 39, was told by district officials seven days after he started his home quarantine with his family on March 13 that he had to move into a hotel. Regulations dictate it has to be one room per person, and his apartment had four people but three rooms.
When he heard Beijing was going to send all incoming travellers into centralised quarantine from March 16, he asked his wife in Singapore to return to the Chinese city with their 2 1/2-year-old son as soon as possible to beat the new rule.
“It seems a breach of common sense, because I had been home for seven days already,” said Mr Choo, chief operating officer of a state-owned healthcare firm.