China today

Contagion caution in Canton

2014-11-20 13:43:40 (Beijing Time)        


Recently, travelers from Ebola-hit countries have had their temperature taken and have been given a few gifts by custom officers upon arriving in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province.

Their presents are a Coolpa cell phone, a prepaid SIM card, a med kit that includes a thermometer and a map of Guangzhou.

A West African businessman soon discovered the purpose of these gifts. He was called occasionally and asked how he was doing; the local government offered him a free hotel room where medical workers wearing protective clothing took his temperature every day and his quarters were disinfected regularly, according to a report by

Those travelers that are given phones must activate them within 21 days of their arrival in China or face being blacklisted by the country's exit-entry security bureaus, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Guangzhou's authorities have been implementing a variety of measures to prevent the spread of the current Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 5,170 people across eight counties including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Workers take the temperature of visitors to an import and export fair in Guangzhou. Photo: IC

After people from at-risk areas arrive in the city, a special team consisting of a policeman, a healthcare worker and a translator will visit them wherever they are staying to check for any suspicious symptoms, according to the Guangzhou Daily.

But Congolese businessman Julio thinks these efforts are excessive. Two weeks ago, while helping a business partner from his hometown check into a hotel, he was told that his partner must go to a specific hotel chosen by the local police station.

Despite these measures, many locals remain unworried. Several residents interviewed said they were not panicking at all. "This city has survived SARS, bird flu and Dengue. We're convinced that we're well prepared," said Li Jiarun, a local resident.

Guangzhou, with an estimated African population of more than 200,000, has become the frontline of China's battle against the Ebola virus, as it accounts for 60 percent of arrivals in China from Ebola-hit regions every day.


Guangzhou practice how to treat an Ebola-infected person. Photo: IC

A banner warning about Ebola is seen behind a woman selling street food at a market in Guangzhou's "African village." Photo: CFP

A Guangzhou hospital is disinfected by staff during an Ebola-outbreak drill. Photo: CFP

Computer screens at the immigration desk of Guangzhou East Railway Station show the temperature of passengers arriving from Hong Kong. Photo: CFP