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Overseas Chinese flock home as coronavirus blankets the West

Beijing uses big data to intercept imported cases from US and Europe

Passengers wait to check in for an Air China flight from New York, where coronavirus cases have been rising, on March 13.   © Reuters

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Elena, a Chinese graduate student in Italy, was headed home. But after two sleepless nights, she landed about 8,000 km away from Beijing on Monday -- in Ethiopia.

The 25-year-old, who asked to be identified only by her English name, had intended to fly from Rome to Beijing via Moscow on Friday. But when she showed up at the airport, she was told by the carrier, Aeroflot, that only Russian citizens were allowed to board due to fears of the new coronavirus.

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