Beijing's main airport has begun receiving international flights again from a limited number of countries while the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise in India and the global tally of cases topped 26 million people.
Passengers flying into the Chinese capital from Cambodia, Greece, Denmark, Thailand, Pakistan, Austria, Canada and Sweden must have first shown a negative coronavirus test before boarding, city government spokesperson Xu Hejian told reporters.
Passenger arrivals will be limited to roughly 500 per day during a trial period and all will need to undergo additional testing for the virus on arrival followed by two weeks of quarantine.
The first flight under the arrangement, Air China Flight 746, arrived from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, just before 7am on Thursday.
Beginning in March, all international flights to Beijing had been redirected to a dozen other cities where passengers were tested and processed before being allowed to travel on to the Chinese capital.
China has gone weeks without new cases of local infection and the 11 new cases recorded on Thursday were all imported.
Meanwhile, India registered a record single-day spike of 83,883 new cases, driving the country's overall tally to 3.85 million.
The health ministry on Thursday also reported 1043 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 67,376.
India has been reporting the highest daily increases for more than three weeks.
The ministry said the country's fatality rate had declined to 1.76 per cent and its deaths per million population was "one of the lowest in the world".
Experts say deaths could be substantially undercounted in several states.
In Thailand, a prison inmate tested positive for the coronavirus in the country's first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days, health officials said onThursday.
They identified the inmate as a 37-year-old man arrested for drug abuse who was brought to prison in Bangkok on August 26 and tested positive on Wednesday at the prison's health centre.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had on Wednesday congratulated the country for having achieved 100 days without any confirmed local cases of the coronavirus.
Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic, even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case.
South Korea reported its first drop below 200 daily new coronavirus cases in more than two weeks on Thursday but the country's strained hospitals were treating more seriously ill patients after the prolonged recent surge in infections.
Thursday's increase of 195 new cases, the first daily increase below 200 in 17 days, indicated the country was beginning to see the effects of stringent distancing restrictions recently imposed in the greater capital area.
However, the number of patients in serious or critical condition with active COVID-19 increased to 154, compared to 14 on August 14 when the country began what's now a 21-day run in triple-digit daily jumps in infections.
Authorities in Hong Kong said just six people had tested positive for the virus out of 128,000 residents who had taken part in the city's mass testing program that began on Tuesday.
Four of the six people were previous coronavirus patients who were discharged last month and still carried traces of the virus when they were tested.
As of Thursday, 850,000 people in the city of 7.5 million have registered to take part in the week-long free testing program aimed at identifying silent carriers of the virus.
Globally, more than 26.13 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus and 863,557 have died.