Beijing, the Chinese capital, has cut itself off from the outside world with drastic measures for fear of a new coronavirus outbreak from other regions of the country.
After controlling the pandemic, China banned foreigners from entering its territory for fear of “imported cases”, although so far these have been mostly Chinese citizens.
However, the capital has gone one step further with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving from other parts of the country, even if they have tested negative.
A strict measure that does not apply in other cities. But Beijing is not a city like the others and it houses the center of power.
The Chinese Communist Party postponed its annual congress scheduled for March (called “the two sessions”) to ensure that the thousands of participating delegates are not at risk of contagion before a new date is set.
“Strengthening control of the people who return to Beijing has become the most pressing priority, if not impossible, to create the right conditions for the two sessions to begin,” according to Ma Liang, a professor at the School of Administration and Public Policy of Renmin University.
Ultimately, these measures want to protect the elite of the Communist Party, in power in China, from the virus, says Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kwan School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
Beijing imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all students who return to the capital and must test negative in order to return to their schools.
On the other hand, all the clients of the hotels must have given a negative in the seven days prior to their stay.
Measures that have already dissuaded many from returning.
Chen Na, a caregiver from Anhui province, has been left without a job because her area of origin is classified as “high risk”.
“When they see where I come from, the conversation stops. I can’t even access an interview. Since February I have been without a job,” he explains.
But those who have the worst time are those who come to Beijing from Wuhan, the city in the center of the country where the coronavirus first appeared and that on May 8 lifted the confinement that had lasted months.
Those arriving in Beijing from Wuhan must test negative seven days before their return date, undergo 14 days quarantine upon arrival, and test negative again before being able to leave.
Other cities only require that people from Wuhan have a green code in a special health application and that they have a negative result in a nucleic acid test.
But to travel to Beijing you need to request it first through an application after receiving the negative diagnosis.
If that request is approved, another must be made to buy train tickets to the capital, with a capacity limited to a thousand seats a day.
“I had bought the tickets for the 12 but on the 7 at night they told me that I needed a negative test to return,” explains Liu Shiyi, a Wuhan resident who arrived in Beijing by train on Saturday.
At two of Wuhan’s main train stations, AFP journalists saw special zones for passengers going to Beijing.
In Wuhan, there are approximately 11,000 people residing in Beijing, authorities said last week.
On a recent visit to the West Beijing station, AFP journalists saw that arrivals from Hubei province, which has Wuhan as its capital, were in a separate area.
The passengers were taken to special buses bound for each district of the capital.
Between April 8 and 13, 1,037 people returned to Beijing from Wuhan. None tested positive for COVID-19.
tjx-lxc / lth / tom / qan / pc / zm