Workers package protective suits at the workshop of Foshan Nanhai Plus Medical Co., Ltd. in Foshan, South China's Guangdong Province on March 3. (Photo: Xinhua)
A total of 16 new imported COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Saturday, which is startling as it was far more than the four new local infections in the Chinese mainland on the same day. As of Saturday, the number of imported cases reached 111. Fortunately, most were identified in time during their entry or subsequent quarantine. Otherwise the consequences would be unimaginable.
The situation in developed countries, such as some European countries and the US, has become increasingly serious. Many Chinese are willing to return to China. In addition, a small number of people have concealed their symptoms or made up false travel histories in order to achieve entry. These moves add to China's burden to prevent overseas coronavirus cases.
Now measures need to further strengthen pandemic prevention against imported cases.
Beijing announced Sunday that, except for exceptional cases, all overseas arrivals need to undergo a 14-day quarantine in designated places, and pay their own expenses starting from Monday. We support this decision, hoping it will become a model for the whole country.
Some people arriving from overseas failed to comply with their commitments to self-quarantine, and the community personnel did not fully supervise those people's isolation. As a result, some went out without restrictions when they had not completed the 14-day quarantine. Some were later diagnosed positive, adding to the risks of prevention and control.
Centralized quarantine is the best way to battle the coronavirus, particularly when the pandemic has spread almost all over the world and the probability of importing infected cases surges. It is more effective than self-quarantine of overseas arrivals.
It is important that those who undergo centralized quarantine pay their own expenses during the quarantine. Initially, local authorities, such as Weihai in East China's Shandong Province, waived the fees of central isolation or urged overseas travelers to isolate at home. Some foreigners believe coronavirus treatment is free in China, which stimulates some people, particularly overseas Chinese, to return to China and avoid the pandemic.
The Chinese mainland must keep tabs on COVID-19 developments worldwide, constantly adjusting the balance to prevent imported cases and fulfilling the responsibility as a responsible power. China can't just take decisive measures like cutting off international airlines or closing the country's gates, nor should it behave as a hero when other countries are restricting international travel.
The basic policy should be reducing the number of overseas visitors amid the severe coronavirus outside China. However, normal exchanges with other countries should be maintained. Comprehensive measures should be taken for those entering China to escape the coronavirus.
Many Chinese people overseas are users of social media platforms on the mainland. They know that people in China are nervous about imported cases and the Chinese government is under huge pressure. They should understand the 14-day quarantine is at their own expense. If they are loosely controlled and if China pays for their prevention expenses after they enter the country, then they will take advantage.
The achievement of our Chinese fight against the epidemic came at the great expense of Chinese people's sacrifice and must be defended. As China continues to carry out global exchanges, it is also important to maintain relations with our compatriots. Let us jointly protect China.