A Boeing 747-8 in Daxing International Airport in Beijing Photo: IC
Starting Monday, all international flights to Beijing must first divert to one of 12 Chinese cities before they are allowed to enter the capital, China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said Sunday amid mounting headlines brought on by lengthy lines of arriving passengers in the city.
CAAC said the move would better ensure no new cases broke out in Beijing. The capital city is burdened with becoming the frontline against imported cases and rising epidemics overseas, Chinese analysts said.
The new civil aviation standard requires all international passengers whose destination is Beijing to undergo quarantine inspection and go through immigration at one of the 12 designated entry points in the other cities.
Only those passengers deemed to meet the boarding requirements after quarantine inspection can board their flights to their original destination of Beijing.
The 12 cities include Shanghai, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang of North China's Hebei Province, Taiyuan of North China's Shanxi Province, Zhengzhou of North China's Henan Province and Jinan and Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province.
An independent aviation market watcher who asks for anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday that the status of Beijing was "most important."
"That should be the primary consideration to ensure zero new confirmed cases of COVID19 in the capital city," he said.
CAAC had said that Beijing Capital International Airport has become the frontline against an overseas epidemic and imported cases.
The move would relieve pressure on the country's capital city, which was the first choice for many passengers as many flights to other Chinese cities were suspended, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Epidemic prevention and control in Beijing airports would be diverted to these 12 entry points and slash the possibility that these people become the source of infection," Wang said.
The Capital International Airport has 205 international passenger flights a week, serving 33 countries and regions, according to CAAC.
Beijing tops Chinese cities with the most confirmed cases from abroad: 97 confirmed imported cases from abroad, including 30 from the UK, 27 from Spain and 18 from Italy, Beijing Municipal Health Commission reported Sunday.
The 12 cities have been implementing strict quarantine measures against possible imported cases on international flights, including a 14-day-quarantine at home or at designated places. Some of the 12, including Shanghai, are conducting nucleic acid tests on all passengers.
Passengers at Pudong International Airport with COVID19 symptoms will be directly sent to medical institutes for diagnosis and treatment. Other passengers will also be sent to designated places for quarantine or have quarantine at home, the Shanghai municipal government said Sunday.
As the first batch of diverted flight, Flight CA926 from Tokyo, Japan landed in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia on Friday and eventually took only 19 passengers onto Beijing after 12 hours' quarantine inspection in Hohhot.
The remaining 86 passengers were quarantined in Hohhot for medical observation, Chinese media yicai reported.
A passenger is asked at least three times his or her origin and destination by airport staff members. The body temperature is taken twice and a free nucleic acid test is administered before they are permitted to leave customs, the report said.