People arriving in Beijing from any country to be quarantined, Latest World News - The New Paper

People arriving in Beijing from any country to be quarantined

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Move comes as China reports increase in imported cases, threatening progress against epidemic

BEIJING: Beijing yesterday ordered people arriving in the city from any country to go into 14-day quarantine as China reported an increase in imported coronavirus cases, threatening its progress against the epidemic.

There were 22 more deaths and 24 new cases nationwide yesterday, according to the National Health Commission.

Ten of the new cases came from abroad - most from Italy, the worst-hit country outside China. Six of the imported cases were in Beijing.

China has made major strides in its battle against the virus, prompting President Xi Jinping to visit Wuhan, the central city at the heart of the global epidemic, on Tuesday and declare that it has "basically curbed" the spread of the disease.

But it now has 79 cases imported from abroad in total.

City government official Zhang Qiang said at a press conference yesterday that those landing from "non-epidemic countries" will also have to stay at home for 14 days.

People arriving in Beijing for business trips must stay in a designated hotel and undergo a nucleic acid test for the virus, he added.

Travellers flying into Beijing Capital International Airport from high-risk countries are now handled separately from other passengers, reported state media on Tuesday.

Flights from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan will arrive at a designated area of the terminal, an airport staff member said yesterday.

Normally the busiest in China by passenger volume, the airport was much quieter than usual yesterday morning.

The employee added that travellers who need to be quarantined would be sent to the New China International Exhibition Centre, where AFP journalists saw security guards standing next to a red carpet.

The virus has infected nearly 81,000 people in China so far, with a large majority having already recovered. The national death toll rose to 3,158 .

South Korea also reported a jump in new cases yesterday as authorities tested hundreds of staff at a call centre where the disease appeared this week, reversing 11 days of slowing infections, health officials said.

Another 242 new cases were reported compared with only 35 a day earlier, bringing the total in Asia's worst outbreak outside mainland China to 7,755, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The death toll rose by one to 60.

The daily tally of new cases in South Korea peaked at 909 on Feb 29, as authorities tested about 200,000 followers of a fringe Christian church at the centre of the nation's epidemic.

With that task almost done, the infection rate had slowed in recent days, raising hopes that South Korea might be bringing the virus under control.

But new clusters at the call centre in Seoul, and among teachers and students of a dance school with classes around the country, have kept authorities on high alert for a fresh spike in infections. - AFP, REUTERS