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March 26, 2020

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Pudong testing for Beijing arrivals

A TEMPORARY entry port has been set up at Pudong International Airport to receive redirected international flights to Beijing, the Shanghai Airport Authority said yesterday.

The “mini entry checkpoint” is at the No. 601 departure hall at the S2 satellite terminal.

Passengers on international flights to Beijing are screened for the coronavirus and undergo other immigration checks.

Since Monday, all international flights to Beijing have been diverted to airports in a dozen other cities, including Shanghai, as their first point of entry, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

Passengers go through customs clearance and quarantine at these airports, and after passing inspection can go on to Beijing on their original flights.

The first such flight — Air China’s flight CA942 from Dubai — landed at Pudong on Tuesday afternoon and inspections were completed by early yesterday morning. There were 248 passengers on board, including 10 foreign travelers, as well as 17 crew.

When the Airbus 330 landed at 1:50pm, customs officials boarded to check health declaration cards and each passenger’s temperature.

Passengers were then organized in groups of 20 to leave the plane and be tested for the virus on the tarmac.

Four buses nearby served as temporary sites for swabs to be taken. Each passenger had to undergo strict disinfection before getting on the buses.

“Eight checkpoints have been set up to finish collecting the swab samples for all the passengers on a flight in about an hour,” said Liao Jian, an official in charge of testing. 

Five shuttle buses then took them to the temporary entry point at the S2 terminal to undergo other customs inspections and wait for test results. 

The airport had prepared chairs with electric sockets, free meals, cold and hot water as well as a vending machine for snacks. “We try to not only ensure strict prevention against the coronavirus but also provide comfortable service,” an airport official said.

The airport, along with Shanghai Customs, the police, health authority and the Pudong government, built the temporary entry port in just 15 hours after the announcement of entry arrangements for Beijing-bound overseas flights, the airport authority said.

“These strict measures make me feel safe,” a Beijing traveler on the flight said. “We should certainly follow all the regulations after returning home.”

Test results came out at around 3am yesterday.

Two people tested positive. They were taken to a designated local hospital by ambulance. Forty-four passengers who had been in close contact with them were sent to designated hotels for medical observation and 14-day quarantine.

Transfer passengers can choose to abort their trip to Beijing and stay in Shanghai, but they have to follow the city’s closed-loop management of all international arrivals.

On the Air China flight, for instance, 25 transfer passengers who had planned to go to Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces after arriving in Beijing, did not board the aircraft again.

The other passengers who tested negative got back on the plane to continue their trip. The plane took off at 6:45am yesterday, about 17 hours after it had landed at Pudong.

Shanghai has said that testing all arriving international passengers to prevent spreading the coronavirus via imported cases was a priority. The city reported 19 new confirmed imported cases yesterday, bringing the total to 94.


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