Asia Today: Beijing receiving 1st int’l flights since March

Beijing’s main international airport is again receiving international flights

BEIJING — Beijing’s main international airport on Thursday began receiving international flights again from a limited number of countries considered at low risk of coronavirus infection.

Passengers flying in from Cambodia, Greece, Denmark, Thailand, Pakistan, Austria, Canada and Sweden, must have first shown a negative coronavirus test before boarding, city government spokesperson Xu Hejian told reporters.

Passenger arrivals will be limited to roughly 500 per day during a trial period and all will need to undergo additional testing for the virus on arrival, followed by two weeks of quarantine. The first flight under the arrangement, Air China Flight 746, arrived from Pnom Penh, Cambodia, just before 7 a.m.

Beginning in March, all international flights to Beijing had been redirected to a dozen other cities where passengers were tested and processed before being allowed to travel on to the Chinese capital.

China has gone weeks without new cases of local infection and the 11 new cases recorded Thursday were all imported.

Beijing’s last local outbreak in July was linked to a wholesale food market, and the city’s customs department announced Wednesday it would test all imported frozen foods, along with other goods arriving from countries considered to be at high risk.

Storage and transportation facilities for imported food would also be disinfected and Beijing customs would work with other cities to ensure the safety of the supply chain.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea reported its first drop below 200 new coronavirus cases in more than two weeks, but the country’s strained hospitals were treating more seriously ill patients after the prolonged recent surge in infections. Thursday’s increase of 195 new cases, the first daily increase below 200 in 17 days, indicated the country was beginning to see the effects of stringent social distancing restrictions recently imposed in the greater capital area. However, the number of patients in serious or critical condition with active COVID-19 increased to 154, compared to 14 on Aug. 14 when the country began what’s now a 21-day run in triple-digit daily jumps in infections. The country has added more than 5,800 newly ill people to its caseload during the streak, raising fears about overwhelmed hospitals.

— Australia’s hot spot Victoria state on Thursday recorded its second consecutive day of increased COVID-19 cases. The state health department said there had been 113 new infections and 15 deaths in the latest 24-hour period. There were 90 new infections and six deaths recorded on Wednesday. There were only 70 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the lowest tally since June.