Virus prompts temperature checks, extra cleaning at airports

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Airports around the world are using temperature checks and adopting precautionary quarantine procedures in response to a new strain of coronavirus that first appeared in China and has since spread to a number of countries.

China Customs is requesting all travelers who want to cross China's border to fill out a health declaration form, because of the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus. 

The outbreak was first identified in the city of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, in December 2019. Nearly 2,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in China.

India, Nigeria, Japan and the United States are some of the countries where airport screening procedures have been put in place.

China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 

Hong Kong is one of the most popular destinations for tourists from the Chinese mainland. The city has stepped up surveillance and ordered more cleaning and disinfecting for planes and trains from Wuhan as well as for train stations and the airport. Carrie Lam, chief executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), declared the highest emergency response in the city on Saturday and said the suspension of flights and trains from Wuhan will remain in place until the outbreak is under control.


Thailand has installed infrared thermometer monitors in Bangkok, Chiang Mai Phuket and Kami airports to strengthen the entry quarantine of tourists. All passengers have to take thermal screening when entering Thailand and will be quarantined in case of fever or any other related symptoms, authorities said.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged officials to enhance quarantine checks at airports and other entry points. Japan has confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus.


Singapore will expand temperature screening at Changi Airport, one of Asia's busiest travel hubs, for all travelers on flights arriving from China. The health ministry said individuals with pneumonia and a history of travel to Wuhan within 14 days of the onset of symptoms will be quarantined in a hospital as a precautionary measure and investigated.


Malaysia reported its third case of coronavirus on Saturday. It has also strengthened screening at Kuala Lumpur's airport. Deputy health Minister Lee Boon Chye said staff are being trained to handle possible cases. 

"If a case emerges, then we may have to take more drastic measures, but for now, we hope we can nip it at the entry point," said Lee.

South Korea

Two cases have been identified in South Korea. At Incheon Airport near Seoul, the only airport in South Korea with direct flights from Wuhan, two special gates were designated for passengers from the city and ear thermometers were used to check their temperatures before Wuhan suspended all flights out of the city.


India said it is expanding thermal screening of passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, to seven airports. In-flight announcements before arrival will direct passengers with a fever or cough who have traveled to Wuhan in the previous 14 days to declare themselves to health authorities.

The United States

A second person in the U.S. has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, with a total 63 patients in 22 U.S. states being monitored for signs of the respiratory illness.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a test to detect the new coronavirus. For those who traveled to China in the past two weeks and have symptoms such as fever, cough or trouble breathing, the agency recommends seeking immediate care, avoiding contact with others, not traveling and practicing good hygiene.


Australia detected on Saturday four coronavirus cases, becoming the latest country in a growing list to be affected by the illness.

Brendan Murphy, Australia's chief medical officer, said biosecurity staff and state health officials in New South Wales are distributing pamphlets printed in English and Chinese to all passengers. The pamphlets describe symptoms of infection and ask people to identify themselves if they are experiencing any. Australians were urged on Saturday not to travel to Hubei Province in China, with the government issuing its most severe travel advisory. 


Nigeria's government says health authorities at the points of entry are on alert for cases of coronavirus arriving in Africa's most populous country. South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases said anyone with a severe respiratory illness should be tested if they have traveled to Wuhan within two weeks or had close physical contact with a coronavirus patient or treatment at a facility where a confirmed case has been reported.


French officials on Friday confirmed three cases of the new coronavirus from China. Authorities in Europe are preparing to deal with the arrival of infected people as the virus spreads beyond Chinese borders. Health authorities in Italy, France and Germany are currently testing people arriving from Asia.

The Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds Chinese citizens who have plans to go abroad to learn about the relevant entry measures of the destination and arrange their travel according to the health conditions.

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