China drops Shanghai as a first port of entry for Beijing-bound flights

FILE PHOTO: China Eastern Airlines aircraft are seen parked on the tarmac in Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China on Monday dropped Shanghai as one of the first ports of entry for international flights bound for the capital, Beijing, while four new cities were added to the list and Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified, will be a “backup”.

Incoming international flights to Beijing have to land at one of 16 designated airports, where passengers are screened. Passengers who test negative for the virus are then permitted to reboard the plane to Beijing.

The revised list of airports names Chengdu, Changsha, Hefei, Lanzhou, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Hohhot, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou and Xi’an, with Wuhan as back-up.

The notice from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) did not say what was meant by back-up. It did not specify the reason for the changes, but said they were made “based on the epidemic development”.

A total of 337 imported cases had been reported in Shanghai by Sunday, the municipal health commission said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and other top officials in Washington have repeatedly criticised China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 4 million people globally and killed more than 400,000.

China has bristled at Washington’s accusations of wrongdoing and insists it has been open and transparent.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong and Colin Qian in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie