Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronavirus: China is building a ‘fortress’ to make sure coronavirus is now a foreign problem

China is building a fortress against coronavirus.

If you want to know just how seriously they are still taking coronavirus, cross its borders.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would ban all foreigners from entering in 24 hours’ time – we need to get to Beijing.

Image: Sky’s Tom Cheshire and the team were travelling to Beijing from Seoul Image: At a hotel in Dalian, staff were wearing full personal protective equipment

Our team was in Seoul and the screening process for COVID-19 started there.

At the check-in counter, our temperatures were taken – anything above 37C meant no boarding, and being locked out of our homes and workplace for weeks, maybe longer.


Each stage was more stringent. At the boarding gate, officials were wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) – suits, masks, goggles and splash guards.

There were four more temperature checks before we were allowed on the plane.

More from Covid-19 Trump gets Seoul population wrong by 28 million after boasting he knows South Korea ‘better than anybody’ Coronavirus lockdown leaves third of ‘ornamental growers’ facing ruin Coronavirus LIVE: Spain announces 849 new deaths in biggest daily rise Coronavirus: Senior officer warns police over lockdown tactics after ‘over-zealous’ claims Coronavirus: A field hospital in Central Park doesn’t feel that strange Coronavirus: Boris Johnson under pressure over lack of protective gear for NHS staff Image: The Sky team were among the last foreign nationals to arrive in China before a ban was enforced Image: Chinese customs officers board the plane on arrival

On board, all the Air China cabin crew were in full PPE too, their names written on the back of their suits and cartoons they had drawn. During the short flight, they took our temperature again.

We landed at Dalian, a seaside city about halfway between Beijing and Seoul.

The Chinese government is so anxious to avoid new COVID-19 cases in the capital that the quarantine process started there; the Citadel must be protected.

When we landed, customs officials boarded – again, they were suited up – and with thermometers once more in hand, before allowing us off the plane, row by row.

Image: China continues to enforce strict measures despite a sharp decrease in new cases

They were scenes that would be impossible to imagine two months ago and even now they feel other-worldly.

The arrival hall was even further in the realm of the unreal: more than 50 officials, customs and police, all in full suits and goggles, sitting at interview desks and manning checkpoints.

Every passenger was interviewed at length about their travel history and possible symptoms.

Then each of us was taken into a medical screening room for the COVID-19 test.

This was uncomfortable, a swab at the back of the throat, then at the back of the nose, enough to make the eyes water.

Image: The test for COVID-19 included a swab at the back of the throat Image: The ‘uncomfortable’ test included a swab at the back of the nose

It was an extraordinary operation, late on a Friday night, and a stark contrast to European cities where people are allowed off flights with perhaps a temperature check at best.

That is what an authoritarian state with deep pockets can achieve.

But it was also remarkably efficient and even considerate – two words I never thought I would use to describe Chinese bureaucracy, or Chinese airports for that matter.

Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

We made it through immigration about two hours after we landed, and only four hours before the ban came into effect.

We were in China but we would not be going to Beijing. A new policy.

We were driven in buses to a local hotel in Dalian requisitioned by the government, flanked by hazmat suits at every point, and checked into tired rooms where we will spend the next 14 days.

Everyone pays for their stay, 340 RMB (about £40) per night.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast with Dermot Murnaghan on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

It includes meals, which are delivered three times a day, left outside the door; if you are quick you can see the hazmat suit that delivered the food scurry off to a safe distance.

Twice a day the phone rings and they ask to take our temperature – thermometers are provided.

Our COVID-19 tests came back negative. We will have another in 10 days’ time.

Inaction and cover-up marred China’s response to the outbreak inside its borders.

Now the virus is a foreign menace, they will go to every length to keep it at bay.


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.