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Some inbound Beijing Capital Intl flights to be diverted

By Wang Kejun | | Updated: 2020-03-19 21:51
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Passengers wearing masks are seen at the terminal hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport, in Beijing, Jan 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Beijing will redirect some inbound flights scheduled to land at its Beijing Capital International Airport to other airports in nearby cities based on changes in the epidemic situation, in a bid to ease the mounting pressure on the city that is seeing an increasing number of imported cases of the novel coronavirus.

According to a notice jointly issued on Thursday by five government departments, including the Civil Aviation Administration and the General Administration of Customs, four international flights that terminate in Beijing within the next three days will be diverted to nearby airports.

Flight CA910 on March 20 from Moscow will be diverted to neighboring Tianjin, as well as flight CA934 on March 22 from Paris. Flight CA926 between March 20 and 22 from Tokyo and flight HU7976 on March 21 and 22 from Toronto will be landing at Taiyuan in North China's Shanxi province and Hohhot in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous, respectively, it said.

Passengers on such flights will be subject to the health and quarantine process at the landing airports, and those who don't exhibit any symptoms will be allowed to reboard the plane to Beijing, it added.

It also noted that the authorities will adopt dynamic adjustment to divert international flights that terminate in Beijing in light of changing epidemic situations.

The measures were taken as imported cases of the new virus have become a major challenge for epidemic prevention and control work in the mega-city.

According to aviation statistics provider VariFlight, nearly 30 inbound flights have terminated in Beijing on daily basis recently, with about one-fourth of the flights from hard-hit countries, including South Korea and Spain.

Against this background, Beijing rolled out a policy requiring anyone arriving from abroad to be put under observation at designated sites for 14 days, which has posed formidable pressure on the city's quarantine capacity.

However, the number of imported cases in Beijing, first detected on Feb 29, has been on the rise, with no locally-transmitted cases of the virus being reported for 12 straight days, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission.

The capital recorded 21 confirmed cases from overseas on Wednesday alone, raising the total number of imported cases to 64 as of Wednesday midnight.

Pang Xinhuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said on Thursday that Beijing, with the largest number of imported cases nationwide so far, accounted for 34 percent of the national total, most of whom came back from the US and European countries.

Beijing on Monday put the 1,000-bed Xiaotangshan Hospital, which is in the city's northern suburbs and was originally built to treat SARS patients in 2003, into use for screening imported suspected cases and treating confirmed cases that are not in severe condition.

An average of 20,000 people fly into China every day, the National Immigration Administration said on Monday.

Many airports across the country have been cutting down the number of inbound flights, as international travel demands dwindle amid the pandemic.

Shanghai -- another international aviation hub in the country -- also has been grappling with a rising number of imported cases amid the rush of returnees. On Tuesday, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines canceled a number of its international flights into the city, including flights from North America and those from European countries.

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