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Action taken to limit crisis

Yuan Shenggao
Updated: Feb 11,2020 09:19 AM    China Daily

Beijing has welcomed a wave of migrant workers returning from other parts of the country this week, while also strengthening its efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak and maintain business as usual.

The city encouraged companies to adopt flexible remote working via phone and internet before Feb 9, in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus, a Jan 31 notice said. Only companies involved in prevention and control of the epidemic, the city's operation, people's daily lives and key construction projects should operate normally before that date. That postponed the tide of incoming workers till Feb 10.

Over the past week, the number of daily visitors arriving in Beijing through railway reached 106,000.The data on Feb 9 and 10 was expected to reach about 160,000 daily on average, said Wang Yong, deputy general manager of China Railway Beijing Group, at a news conference on Feb 9.

Railway stations have been equipped with 370 body temperature measurement devices, some of which can operate automatically to avoid congestion. Passengers with abnormal temperatures will be moved to a health and epidemic prevention department, he said.

The number of incoming passengers at the Beijing Capital International Airport dropped by 62.6 percent from Jan 24 to Feb 9, compared with the same period last year, data from the airport showed. Besides temperature measurement, disinfection and ventilation procedures were also conducted more frequently.

Before the epidemic, passengers on the Beijing subway averaged about 12 million on average per workday. Now, that figure has fallen to less than 1.2 million, as more residents have chosen to stay at home to avoid infection. Subway tallies are expected to reach about 6 million as the millions of migrant workers return to Beijing this week, said Wang Xiaojun, operation director of Beijing Subway Ltd. He said subway stations would avoid crowds, by monitoring real-time load factors, running more temporary trains and limiting the number of passengers.

The Beijing government suggests that people returning to the city stay at home for two weeks in quarantine to observe their medical status. Any abnormalities should be reported. It also asks companies and institutions to monitor body temperatures of staff. Drug stores will also report customers with fever, according to the 18th meeting on epidemic control held by city officials on Feb 8.

Virus-infected patients in critical condition should be dealt with individually, officials said, to decrease the number of fatalities.

Beijing also called for shopping malls and other business operators to focus on improving e-commerce. Officials said the supply of daily necessities should be guaranteed, without price gouging.

With more families staying at home during Spring Festival, the demand for vegetables surged. Liu Yanfei, general manager of TianAn Agriculture in Shunyi district, told The Beijing News that orders for vegetables are five to six times higher than normal.

The company supplies goods for 152 supermarkets and 36 communities in Beijing. The daily supply reached 60 metric tons at its peak during this year's Lunar New Year holiday, she said.

According to the Beijing Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the city is now producing 2,100 tons of vegetables every day to maintain supply.

Beijing's foreign affairs office released an open letter to expats in Beijing on Jan 31, recommending them to call 12345 for more information about the outbreak. Eight foreign languages are available: English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Arabic, with English service available 24 hours a day.

The office also suggested that expats seek prompt medical attention at fever clinics if they find themselves with symptoms of fever, cough, chest tightness or fatigue.