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Boarded flight today from #NewYork to #Beijing via #Incheon, here's a thread about my experience so far (in context of the #Covid19 #outbreak and measures that #countries, #airlines and #airports are taking for it).
Was surprised that there were no temperature checks or any other #Covid19-related tests for outbound passengers at @JFKairport (drastic contrast with airports in #Asia that have been checking temperature of every OUTBOUND passenger since ~2 months now).
One would expect a country like #USA to take its leadership role in the world more seriously. Shocked to see this lack of responsibility towards what is now a GLOBAL threat. (Also, no hand sanitizers at checkin counters like #Phuket airport had >1 month ago)
Flight arrived at #Incheon airport. All passengers were directed to a temperature screening at the airport. Note that I am a TRANSFER passenger and didn't checkout but was still subject to the same scrutiny as those arriving in #Korea. (Kudos to Korea and @incheon_gov).
My next flight was @AirChinaNA, which I wasn't issued a boarding pass for at JFK: I had to get a temperature check by #AirChina staff at Incheon airport and sign a health declaration to get the boarding pass.
When I passed the boarding gate and began walking towards the plane, there was a counter with people in FULL hazmat suits who checked both my throat and wrist temperature, and made notes. They also asked for proof of my temperature test from the #AirChina transfer desk.
All staff on #AirChina plane were covered fully in hazmats. The windows had dried wipe marks, likely left over from routine disinfection of the plane (my guess).
The #AirChina staff (covered fully in hazmats) tested every passenger's temperature before takeoff, during flight and before descent.
When the door opened at #Dalian airport (all flights to #Beijing have to first stopover at other airports for testing) a team of custom officials boarded the plane, asked everybody to remain on their designated seats, tested everyone's temperature and checked health declarations.
After disembarking we were directed to what looks like a full-fledged mass testing facility at the airport swarming with officials in hazmats. There are several testing rooms and tables, where every passenger is interrogated for #Covid19 symptoms and risks.
After ~5mins of one-on-one interrogation (took me longer coz they got a translator for me), every passenger was sent to the testing room where they collected one swab from my throat and one from my nose for a (real) #COVID19 #coronavirus test.
They informed me that these (free!) tests are now mandatory for EVERY person entering the country. I heard that this new policy was just announced today. Now I'm in the waiting hall where they have designate a seat to every passenger with a 5-seat-distance in between.
Medical personnel in hazmats are going around carrying luggage carts that are fitted with a megaphonereshaped device continuously spraying disinfectant in the air.
An automated voice on the PA had announced that the wait may take upto 5 hours. They are offering free water, a meal and a blanket (!!) to every passenger.
The waiting times and changes in flight itineraries are surely inconvenient but the hospitality of the staff here, who regularly come to check whether you need water or a blanket, is comforting.
Most importantly, the assurance that such painstakingly stringent measures provide those either residing in or traveling to China is unparalleled. Countries in #Asia have proven to be more effective and responsible in times of such crisis (maybe past experiences?).
My feelings might flip after a few hours because I'm still waiting to board the flight to my destination and then be allocated a quarantine hotel - a process that used to take ~9hrs until today's new policy change. Stay tuned.
Now boarding for (finally) final destination #Beijing. It seems that either, luckily, everyone on the flight tested negative for #COVID19 or those who tested positive have been held back (idk anyone). The air hostesses on this one are wearing usual @AirChinaNA uniform.
Can't think of any other airline or country that can actually ensure today #COVID19 -free flights like this, likely the only commercial passenger flight on earth atm on which you can happily carry your kids or grandparents along.
Just landed in #Beijing, where specially modified buses and a team of medical personnel in full hazmats was waiting for our flight. They tested everyone's temperature before letting us board the bus and asked everyone to take two seats, filling the bus to only 1/4th capacity.
The bus has an airtight screen that separates the driver from the passengers. Friends in China informed me that negative pressure buses take passengers to their allocated quarantine hotels but don't think this bus is one of them. Stay tuned.
Bus is taking us directly to China International Exhibition Center, where everybody who flies into Beijing is gathered and designated a quarantine hotel. Previously all passengers landed at #Beijing airport, went through all the checks there and then went to CIEC.
The CIEC #Beijing isn't as crowded as I had heard - coz of either the time (3:30AM) or the new policy. There are various personnel (all in hazmats) who speak different languages to help you choose a hotel for 15 nights and answer any queries about it. Two hotel options ATM.
The staff employed in this wartime-like national effort to fight #COVID19 has been working around the clock. Here's just one of many hard working warriors, catching a break (3:30AM). Not surprising considering #China's size+scale and the headways it has already made in this war.
Both the hotel options were national chain hotels. Idea for other countries: smaller hotel chains who cannot afford to donate entire hotels for this cause may consider renting them out to the gov at a low price, creating a win-win during this extraordinarily bad time for hotels.
Finally checked into what will be my pad for the next two weeks.
They offer fixed meals but they aren't the heathiest (to say the least). Good that I came prepared for this #quarantine. Just wish the room were a bit bigger so I could do all exercises from a new #homeworkout APP that I recently started.
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