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Beijing airport screenings upgraded

Xin Wen
Updated: Mar 24,2020 09:17 AM    China Daily

Faced with an increasing risk of imported novel coronavirus cases, airport customs in Beijing has upgraded body temperature screening measures to tighten disease control and prevention.

Two or more body temperature screenings are being conducted at Beijing Capital International Airport customs for each inbound traveler, including infrared temperature checks and infrared detection gun temperature measurements, said Gao Ruifeng, deputy director of Beijing Customs. Some travelers flying in from hard-hit countries have to be retested by mercury thermometers.

Calibrations of thermometers at customs must be made more than five times per day, said Gao, adding that each customs station has been equipped with one medical professional to conduct inspections.

Strict epidemiological investigation has also been implemented for inbound passengers from hard-hit countries. Detailed inquiries about those travelers' personal information, infectious disease symptoms and their history of travel, residence, contacts and exposure are being made.

For those showing coronavirus or other respiratory symptoms, samples of their nasopharyngeal swabs-which are swabs of the uppermost part of the throat behind the nose-have to be sent to a laboratory for nucleic acid tests, Gao said.

Those who test positive must be transferred to local designated hospitals for medical treatment, while those who test negative will be taken to isolation sites to undergo a 14-day quarantine, Gao said.

The capital reported 25 newly confirmed imported cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia between morning of March 22 and noon of March 23, including the first from Pakistan, bringing the total confirmed infections in the city from overseas to 122.

Of the 25 cases reported, there were 14 from Spain, six from the United Kingdom, two from France and one each from the United States, the Netherlands and Pakistan, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Commission.

The capital also reported 15 new suspected cases on March 22 involving inbound travelers.

There have been no new reports of domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases in Beijing for 16 consecutive days.

As of midnight of March 22, Beijing had reported a total of 522 confirmed cases, with 400 of those patients discharged from the hospital after recovery. There have been eight deaths.

Local health authorities in the capital have traced 4,164 people who had close contact with the patients. They said 381 were still under quarantine for observation.

Health officials in Beijing also advised overseas travelers to avoid gatherings amid the novel coronavirus pandemic before they come to China, since many imported cases in the capital have occurred because of people going out without wearing masks and having close contact with others.

"In epidemiological investigations, we've found many people who are confirmed novel coronavirus cases from overseas had gone to supermarkets or shopping not wearing masks," said Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Confronting the rising risks of imported cases, we have warned everyone to reduce the habit of going out and eating outside," she said. "Once symptoms like fever and dry cough have occurred, they have to see a doctor at local medical institutions and obey local prevention and control rules of infectious disease."

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