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August 11, 2020

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Flight restrictions likely as city’s imported cases rise

CHINA’S civil aviation authority plans to enforce the flight suspension mechanism on flights to Shanghai following an increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases reported in the city.

Shanghai will further enhance the closed-loop entry procedure and strictly implement health management measures to curb imported cases from inbound flights, Shanghai’s health commission said yesterday.

Shanghai reported 18 new imported COVID-19 cases on Sunday. All were Chinese nationals flying from the United Arab Emirates.

Three of them left the UAE on August 5 and arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport the following day, while the others left the UAE and arrived in Shanghai via Sri Lanka on August 7.

So far, of all the 444 imported cases, 396 have been discharged and 48 are still in hospital.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has yet to announce which flights will be suspended according to the regulation which took effect from June 1.

According to the reward and suspension mechanism, if the number of passengers testing positive reaches five, the airline’s flights are suspended for a week. The suspension will last four weeks if the number of passengers testing positive reaches 10.

If all inbound passengers of an airline test negative for coronavirus for three weeks in a row, the operating airline will be allowed to increase the number of flights to two per week.

Shanghai Customs and immigration authorities are conducting on-board inspections, health declaration verification, temperature checks and epidemiological investigations on all inbound flights and passengers, according to the commission.

All inbound travelers are required to have nucleic acid tests, while those with fever or other COVID-19 symptoms will be sent to designated hospitals.

“The remote control and management measures will be further enhanced on international flights,” the commission said.

“More strict quarantine inspections and verifications on the nucleic acid testing reports will be carried out before travelers board the plane.”

The civil aviation administration has so far suspended six flights since the reward and suspension mechanism was launched.

China Southern Airlines’ flight from Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, to Guangzhou was the first after 17 passengers on a June 11 flight tested positive for COVID-19.

It was followed by a Sichuan Airlines flight from Cairo to Chengdu after six passengers on a June 27 flight tested positive.

The other suspended flights were Biman Bangladesh Airlines’ flight from Dhaka to Guangzhou, Air China’s CA910 from Moscow to Beijing, Thai Lion Air’s Bangkok-Guangzhou flight and a Thai AirAsia X’s Bangkok-Tianjin flight.

Etihad Airways said yesterday it will beef up its regulations for all passengers flying to Shanghai after six travelers on its flight EY862 from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival at the Pudong airport on August 3.

The six passengers, who are under quarantine at a medical facility in Shanghai, had completed mandatory PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, exhibited no symptoms and provided negative result certificates for COVID-19 on check-in, the airline said in a statement. PCR is a technology used in nucleic acid tests for coronavirus.


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