SCIO briefing on the health and security of Chinese students overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on April 2 to brief the media on the health and security of Chinese students living overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak. April 6, 2020

Global Times:

At present, due to a massive reduction of international flights, many overseas Chinese students are faced with a situation where it is difficult to purchase a flight ticket back to China. You also introduced that the civil aviation department will start relevant work for overseas charter flights for cities that have concentrated needs and destinations that have the capability of handling charter flights. Has this work started, and how is it going? Thank you.

Lyu Erxue:

I have just mentioned that due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirements of the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has issued the "Five Ones" policy, which allows one airline to maintain one air route in one country flying up to one flight per week. Under the policy, the number of international flights has significantly reduced, but at the same time retaining no more than 134 scheduled international flights per week between China and 61 cities in 40 countries outside China. In addition, in accordance with the CPC Central Committee's general requirements for enhancing the care of Chinese citizens abroad and in strict compliance with the specific deployment of the joint epidemic prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the CAAC has launched a vital air transportation support mechanism in a timely manner for cities that have concentrated needs and the capability of handling travelers and arranged temporary flights to assist overseas citizens in returning home. From March 4 to 26, the CAAC organized a total of 9 temporary flights to assist 1,466 Chinese citizens in returning home from Iran and Italy. Among them, 6 temporary flights were executed in Iran, and 976 passengers were transported home. The majority of them are overseas Chinese students. Three temporary flights have been carried out in Italy, and the fourth one is currently underway, which will transport 180 Chinese citizens back home. The specific route of the fourth flight is from Milan to Wenzhou.

At the same time, according to the unified deployment of the joint epidemic prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the CAAC officially launched the temporary flight mission to the United Kingdom today. Mr. Ma also just revealed that the first flight has taken off from Shanghai Pudong Airport at 9:30 a.m. this morning and will arrive in London tonight. It is expected to pick up about 180 overseas students. To ensure the prevention of the epidemic and control during the flight, the CAAC adopted a series of targeted prevention and control measures. First, we formulated prevention and control measures for temporary flight missions to countries with a severe pandemic, which provides practical guidance for the protection of people on board. Second, we are working closely with embassy staff and accompanying medical staff of the National Health Commission (NHC) to carry out body temperature screenings and testing before boarding. Third, we will provide special protection and disinfectant supplies for each flight, and medical N95 masks will be distributed to each passenger to minimize the spread of the virus on the aircraft. Fourth, we will take adequate anti-epidemic measures on board, such as ventilation and disinfection. Passengers are seated in separate seats, and the cabins are partitioned to reduce the mobility of people on board. Fifth, we will strictly disinfect the aircraft after each mission to ensure safety before performing other flight missions.

In the next step, the CAAC will strictly follow the task deployments of the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, promptly launch aviation support mechanisms for overseas students who need to return to China from countries that are severely affected by the pandemic, and do an excellent job in transport capacity adjustment, crew arrangements, and onboard prevention and protection to ensure the successful completion of the task of helping overseas students return home. Thank you.

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