The Chinese capital is opening up to international travel after a gap of six months following the Covid-19 pandemic with an official announcement saying that flights from eight countries, including its ‘all-weather ally’ Pakistan, would be permitted from Thursday.
Beijing, which banned all international flights from March 23, on Wednesday announced plans to resume direct international flights beginning Thursday, signalling that the pandemic has been contained in the city.
Flights connecting Thailand, Cambodia and Pakistan in Asia; Greece, Denmark, Austria and Sweden in Europe and Canada in North America — countries with relatively small numbers of imported cases — will resume.
The first direct international flight to Beijing will depart from Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Thursday which will be operated by Air China.
Meanwhile, India operated its fourth ‘Vande Bharat’ flight to China on Wednesday.
The flight carried several Indian expats to Shanghai from Delhi and carried a large number of stranded Indians who wanted to go back home.
India has so far operated four ‘Vande Bharat’ flights to Shanghai and Guangzhou besides three earlier to Wuhan to airlift Indians, mostly students, stranded in the city when the virus was at its peak in February.
China is gradually permitting flights from different countries, including the US to Shanghai and other cities mainly to bring back its stranded citizens abroad.
After a break since late March, Beijing airports will open again to welcome passengers from eight countries directly into the city, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.
Since March, all international flights bound for Beijing have been rerouted to other Chinese cities, in a bid to prevent the imported cases of coronavirus.
All international passengers entering Beijing like other cities in China would undergo 14-day collective quarantine periods for medical observations and take nucleic acid tests twice, Beijing health authority spokesman Gao Xiaojun told a press conference on Wednesday.
Beijing reported no new case for 26 consecutive days as of Wednesday, according to local health authorities.
It does not mean, however, that Beijing — or other cities in the country — could relax their prevention and control measures, as China has been seeing growing numbers of imported cases in recent months, according to some experts.
With the experience of dealing with resurgent outbreaks in cities like Beijing and Dalian of northeast China’s Liaoning province, China is increasingly capable of handling imported cases, and Covid-19 prevention and control has become a regular task, Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times.