COVID-19 – China shuts its borders with only a few exceptions

PETALING JAYA (March 27): In the latest move to curb the spread of the COVID-19, China is shutting its borders from all international entries except for a few categories.

Effective tomorrow, all foreigners, even with valid visas and residence permits, are banned from entering the country, reported The Straits Times/Asia News Network today. This is in addition to tight restrictions against international flights.

In a late-night announcement yesterday, its foreign ministry said exemptions are made only for diplomats, those engaged in emergency humanitarian work, or “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities” and those with C visas, which are issued to foreigners who provide international transportation services.

“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in the light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” the ministry stated.

On top of that, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration said foreign airlines will be restricted to only one route per week, Sunday onwards. Domestic airlines too, are only allowed to travel to one country not more than once a week.

It also directed airlines to limit their passenger load to 75%, while permitting them to utilise passenger planes for cargo-only flights.

The announcement follows a record-high of 67 imported cases on Wednesday, an increase of 20 cases from the day before.

While China has recorded zero cases for locally transmitted cases for two consecutive days, inbound infections have risen to 541, of which 90% are Chinese nationals. 

Chinese nationals make up as many as 90% of those re-entering the country, out of which 40% are students coming home from other parts of the world, where the virus is breaking out rapidly.

“We understand some students abroad are anxious to come home,” said Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui on Thursday. 

“But under the current circumstances, by staying put, they can avoid being cross-infected in the rush to come home or risk being stuck mid-way should the countries they transit tighten border controls.”

Stay calm. Stay at home. Keep updated on the latest news at #stayathome #flattenthecurve

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