China’s quarantine hotels for international arrivals: not for everyone

By Javier García

Beijing, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- Quarantines for international travelers arriving in China are strict and can be vastly different experiences, ranging from a windowless room to a five-star hotel with a sea view.

The scheme is one of the key tools the country has used to bring the pandemic under control and is mandatory for all overseas arrivals, apart from diplomats.

Travelers are initially screened for Covid-19 and anyone who tests positive goes to a special government center or hospital.

Anyone sitting in the three rows beside a passenger who tests positive is also given the same treatment.

For those who quarantine in hotels, accommodation is assigned by the authorities and individuals do not know where they will be staying for 14 days unless they pay all their expenses in advance.

Those journeying to China have to take a test at their original location three days before flying and sometimes another at the departure airport on the day of travel.

Beijing airport has been closed to international flights since March, with planes diverted to other cities and passengers spending 14 days in isolation before continuing to the capital.

Arrivals are taken to a special area in the airport where they are given a nasal test, throat test and blood test to check for virus antibodies.

They must also answer dozens of questions about places they have visited and who they were with, as well as their purpose in coming to China.

After about three hours of filling in forms, they are taken in special buses to hotels and are sprayed with disinfectant before they enter.

Rayben Wang, 33, lives in Canada and flew to the city of Chengdu to visit his family in the province of Hunan, more than 1,000km away.

He was unlucky to be put in a windowless hotel room in Chengdu for which he pays around $55 a day excluding meals.

“It’s not good for my mental health to be locked up here without windows or outside light or the ability to get fresh air in the room,” the administrative assistant at a construction company tells Efe. “No one can come in or out for 14 days, I don’t have any human contact.”

He says the hotel did not provide him with any spare bedsheets because it is not a medical requirement.

“I know more cases of people being in rooms without windows,” Wang adds. “We feel like we’ve done something wrong just by coming home.”

He says China is “the strictest country in the world” in controlling the pandemic but that this has advantages and disadvantages.

“It’s very safe but those of us from outside feel like we’re abandoned,” he adds.

Another traveler, who did not want to give her name, had a completely different quarantine experience and says all the passengers on her flight were assigned to four or five-star hotels.

She was put in a good room with excellent views with her husband and three-year-old son and says they were given products to disinfect it every day.

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