China tightened quarantine measures for international arrivals on Monday to prevent a new wave of coronavirus infections, as 12 more imported cases of the disease were reported.
After declaring they had “basically” curbed the spread of the disease within China, where the virus first emerged, authorities are now worried about an influx of infections from other countries.
Beijing’s city government has ordered international arrivals from Monday onwards to go into centralised quarantine facilities for 14 days.
Travellers had previously been allowed to undergo the mandatory isolation at home, but now only those with “special circumstances” will be exempted from the new rules, and those sent to the facilities must pay for their stay.
Authorities have not given further detail on which travellers will be exempted from the new quarantine and in what kind of facilities they will be housed.
All inbound overseas flights to Beijing will now land at the city’s main international airport, where travellers will be handled separately at a designated area, state newspaper Beijing Daily reported on Sunday.
Screening then quarantine
From there, passengers will be transferred to the nearby New China International Exhibition Centre for medical screening before being sent to the quarantine facilities.
Travellers destined for other provinces will be escorted from the exhibition centre to their final destinations.
At least two other regions have also imposed a 14-day centralised quarantine on all foreign arrivals, state media reported on Sunday.
Shanghai and southern Guangdong province previously announced a mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from countries badly hit by the pandemic.
A total of 123 cases from abroad have now been reported, with four of the 12 latest detected in Beijing.
Imported cases have now outnumbered domestic infections for three straight days.
China has touted the effectiveness of quarantining Wuhan – where the virus first emerged – and surrounding Hubei province since late January, along with measures to prevent large gatherings and limit travel across the country.
The death toll now stands at 3,213 after 14 more fatalities were reported on Monday.
China has logged more than 80,800 cases, but most patients have recovered and there are now fewer than 10,000 infected people, according to the National Health Commission.
The country’s progress contrasts with the growing crisis abroad, with the worldwide death toll surpassing 6,000 as Italy recorded its biggest one-day rise in fatalities.
With 368 deaths, Italy’s grim figure was higher than any single-day toll reported in China.