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The State Council Inter-Agency Task Force Held a Press Briefing

2020/03/23

On 23 March, the State Council inter-agency task force held a press briefing to give an update on the latest law-based measures to prevent import of COVID-19 cases from overseas.

To date, over 180 countries and regions have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19. At the press briefing, Song Yueqian, Deputy Director General of the Department of Health Quarantine of China's General Administration of Customs (GACC), said that to prevent further import of cases, GACC now requires mandatory health declaration for all inbound and outbound passengers. It developed a Wechat mini program and an APP for inbound passengers to fill out their declaration forms and get a QR code in advance, which will be verified upon arrival. All transportation vehicles from heavily-hit countries (key countries) are subject to risk assessment and control and on-board screening at designated places by customs authorities. All international arrivals are required to go through "Three Checks, Three Screenings and One Transfer" (See note) at points of entry. Four categories of people, namely confirmed cases, suspected cases, fever patients with possible infection and close contacts, once detected, will be tested and transferred to local inter-agency task forces right away for further arrangements.

It has been approved by the State Council that starting from 00:00 of 23 March Beijing Time, all international passenger flights bound for Beijing will be diverted to Tianjin, Hohhot and ten other designated first points of entry.

Note:

  •  "Three Checks": Checking the health declaration, body temperature and health conditions of those exiting and entering the border.
  •  "Three Screenings": Conducting epidemiological, medical and laboratory screening of those with symptoms found in the "Three Checks" or having close contact with confirmed and suspected cases.
  •  "One Transfer": Those with confirmed or suspected infection, showing symptoms of infection or having close contacts with confirmed cases found in the "Three Screenings" will be transferred for isolation and medical observation.

According to Liu Haitao, Director General of the Department of Border Inspection and Management of the National Immigration Administration (NIA), the NIA has established a passenger booking information sharing mechanism with Chinese and foreign airlines that have flight connections with China. This mechanism makes available to the NIA basic information of inbound passengers at all airports, as well as information regarding their travel, entry and landing, which will help to inform the customs and quarantine authorities of points of entry at the earliest possible time for response measures.

Liu said that the NIA has shared close to 200,000 pieces of information on exit-entry passengers involving key countries with quarantine authorities and inter-agency task forces of relevant provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, which enabled the detection of over 100 cases, or a third of all imported cases, by the customs and health authorities.

Liu said that international travelers who plan to transfer to a third country via the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) need to be mindful of the change of itineraries. It is suggested that these passengers allow for enough time to make the next flight at BCIA as they need to go through customs clearance and quarantine inspection when their flights stop over at the first points of entry. For those who cannot exit China via a connecting flight at BCIA, the immigration inspection authorities will see that they exit at the earliest possible time. Liu suggested that international travelers think it over before making itineraries that involve international transfers at BCIA. If that is really necessary, travelers should ensure a long enough layover lest they miss their outbound flights.

Sun Shaohua, deputy head of the Operations and Monitoring Center of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said that Beijing is now the main battlefield in the fight against importation of cases. And as an important international aviation hub, BCIA lies at the front line of this battlefield. A few days ago, five government agencies including the CAAC jointly released a notice, diverting international flights bound for Beijing to designated first points of entry. This can help forestall import of cases and provide better safeguards for travelers' health. BCIA has been under smooth operation since the diversion was executed.

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