A ground staff worker cleans a parked passenger aircraft of China Eastern Airlines at Beijing Capital International Airport as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, March 9, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
Two airports－one in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and the other in Tianjin－two cities not far from Beijing, began accommodating rerouted inbound flights on Friday amid the latest efforts to ease the capital's growing pressure from increasing imported infections of COVID-19.
Flight CA910 from Moscow was diverted to land in Tianjin on Saturday and Flight CA926 from Tokyo landed in Hohhot on Friday, after a notice was issued by five government departments, including the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the General Administration of Customs on Thursday.
In addition, on Sunday, Tianjin will receive rerouted Flight CA934 from Paris and Hohhot will receive rerouted Flight CA926 from Tokyo.
Another airport not far from Beijing－Taiyuan, Shanxi province－is also scheduled to receive rerouted Flight HU7976 on Saturday and Sunday from Toronto, the notice said.
Rerouted passengers and crew will be subject to health and quarantine processes at the three Chinese airports.
Confirmed novel coronavirus cases will be sent to local designated hospitals, while those with symptoms or having had close contact with confirmed cases will be sent to designated quarantine areas in the three cities, it said.
Rerouted passengers and crew who pass through the processes with no symptoms will be flown to Beijing at no additional cost.
The Civil Aviation Administration further explained the importance of rerouting some international flights to nearby airports, saying it can help contain imported COVID-19 infections, improve the capacity to secure the health of passengers and help promote efficiency of customs clearance.
Amid the ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus, Beijing Capital International Airport receives 205 international flights from 33 countries weekly, making the capital subject to unprecedented risks in tackling imported cases, the civil aviation authority said.
Tianjin announced on Friday it would upgrade its quarantine and health check protocols for possible imported cases of the novel coronavirus in response to the latest measures.
Ren Feng, head of the exit and entry administration general team under the Tianjin Public Security Bureau, said the city has "zero tolerance for those hiding the truth of their confirmed cases infected from overseas, and the security bureau will strengthen coordination among the airport, communities and other authorities".
Wang Haozhe, vice-general manager of Tianjin Binhai International Airport, said, "The airport has cleared out special channels and zones to help with the quarantine, checks and transfer of those newly added passengers to appointed hotels or hospitals."
"We have set up four batches of special plans for aircraft, passengers, cargo and their personal belongings based on the experience accumulated from our recent measures for several aircraft from South Korea," Wang said.
Taiyuan's health commission announced on Thursday it has appointed two hospitals to receive confirmed cases from the flights, and some hotels and local emergency rescue centers are ready to begin quarantine and transfer of infected passengers.
Along with the rerouting of flights, China's civil aviation authorities announced a cap on the number of inbound flights to the country on Friday.
All Chinese and overseas airlines will be required to maintain their current level of international flights or cut them back, based on this week's flight plans for Monday to Sunday.