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Beijing isolation sites to release first batch of overseas travelers

By Xin Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-26 09:42
An inbound traveler, who is under quarantine at a hotel, takes the supper left outside the room in Shunyi district, Beijing, on March 24, 2020. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

Centralized quarantine sites in Beijing, accommodating inbound passengers from overseas, started preparing for the release of the first batch of international travelers registered in mid-March.

In Shunyi district, northeast of the capital, 461 inbound travelers had been transported to reside at four centralized hotels, including 105 foreigners from 19 countries, according to the district government.

All guests had to take nucleic acid tests at the airport before they checked in at the hotel, and if symptoms like fever occurred they were transferred to designated local hospitals for further medical examination and treatment.

Zhong Biying, general manager of an isolation hotel near the capital airport, said they received seven guests from Seoul on March 13 as the first batch of such passengers, with more inbound travelers arriving in the following days.

On March 16, the Beijing municipal government required all inbound international travelers to undergo centralized quarantine and observation at designated isolation sites to reduce the increasing risks of imported coronavirus cases.

And a rising number of inbound passengers have since been arriving, Zhong said.

There was no more vacancy in the hotel by March 19, she said.

By Tuesday, a total of 189 guests, consisting of both Chinese citizens and expats, were living in the isolation hotel in Shunyi, with seven expected to be released on Friday.

Jia Shuxian, deputy director of a local health center in Shunyi who is also responsible for disease control and prevention work at the hotel, said nine people with an abnormal elevation of body temperature were sent to designated local hospitals for further medical treatment.

Among them, five cleared of possible infection with the novel coronavirus had been sent back to the hotel for continued observation.

"At about 10:06 am on Tuesday, I received a phone call that a 27-year-old under quarantine at the centralized isolation hotel had a body temperature of 37.7 degrees, with symptoms of sore throat and fatigue," Jia said.

"We contacted an ambulance immediately and sent the man to Xiaotangshan Hospital for further diagnosis."

All checked-in inbound passengers had undergone nucleic acid tests at the airport before arriving at the hotel.

Those who tested negative were taken to the isolation hotel to undergo a 14-day quarantine, Jia said.

During the quarantine, hotel service staff do not have direct contact with isolated passengers.

Meals and essentials are put on a long table outside of each guest room at a certain time daily for the guests to pick up.

At this time, the staff, wearing protective gear, will collect any household garbage that the guests have deposited outside their doors, said Shen Chao, one of four hotel room service staff in the Shunyi isolation hotel.

Four floors in the seven-story hotel are being used to quarantine inbound travelers, said Shen, adding that 24 people, including hotel room service staff, security guards, and health prevention workers work in shifts spanning 24 hours daily.

After the 14-day quarantine, a health certificate approved by the isolation hotel, local health department and district office at the passenger's place of residence will be issued and the quarantined inbound traveler can return home, said Wang Hui, a senior official with Shunyi district government.

"In addition, the hotel rooms the inbound travelers stayed in will be sealed for another 14 days after their quarantine, with complete, follow-up sanitation expected," said Shen, the hotel room service worker.

Mu Xiaolu, a 38-year-old sailor who returned to Beijing from Spain on March 18, said he has gotten used to picking up meals outside his hotel room door.

He said he has also contacted his apartment's district office in Haidian about whether he could go back after completing the 14-day centralized quarantine.

"It's actually much simpler to put us under centralized quarantine since we don't need to do further sterilization on our own here like we would if we were under self-quarantine at home," he said.

Mu has also called his family regularly and takes his body temperature twice a day using a mercury thermometer under the guidance of doctors.

A total of 149 quarantine sites have been set up in Beijing for inbound international travelers, a senior capital official has stated.

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