hina has announced that it will ban all foreign nationals from entering its borders in order to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
Late on Thursday evening, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a notice announcing it would be temporarily suspending the entry of foreign nationals, even those holding valid visas or residence permits.
The ban comes into effect at midnight on Friday (0:00 am on March 28).
Foreigners holding any type of visa or residence permit will be denied entry apart from those with diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas.
“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” said the Foreign Ministry, adding that the measures would be “calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.”
After getting its domestic Covid-19 outbreak under control, China’s attention has shifted this month to preventing a potential “second wave” of the epidemic from washing over the country via international arrivals at airports.
So far, 541 imported coronavirus cases have been reported in China with a spike this week seeing dozens of new cases being reported each day.
However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of these cases do not involve foreign nationals. 90 percent of China’s imported coronavirus patients hold Chinese passports while 40 percent are overseas Chinese students.
While China hasn’t banned its own citizens from returning, it has moved to dramatically reduce the number of flight options they will have, limiting foreign airlines to just one flight a week to China starting on Sunday.
It’s also worth noting that this is something of an ironic twist considering at the start of the outbreak the Chinese government complained about other countries putting restrictions on travelers from China, calling such moves “inappropriate.”
Finally, it’s hard not to bring up a World Health Organization advisory from January 11, recommending that no restrictions be placed on travelers from Wuhan or China.
“It is generally considered that entry screening offers little benefit, while requiring considerable resources,” said the WHO at the time.
WHO does not recommend any specific health measures for travellers to and from Wuhan,#China🇨🇳
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 10, 2020