Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coronavirus, China to close borders to most foreigners

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The Chinese decision is radical. From Saturday March 28, China, the cradle of the new coronavirus, will temporarily close its borders to foreigners holding visas or valid residence permits, due to the Covid-19, announced Thursday evening March 26 Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “This is an interim measure that China is forced to take to deal with the epidemic, referring to the practices of several other countries”, he said in a statement.

Clearly, this series of restrictions closes the door of Chinese territory to tourists and foreigners domiciled in China but currently outside the country. Business travelers seem spared.

90% of imported cases are Chinese returning home

As China proclaims to the world that it has practically defeated the coronavirus, and in the aftermath of the lifting of the quarantine in Hubei province, epicenter of the original epidemic since last December, this unexpected announcement casts doubt on the real situation of the epidemic in China. “This is a temporary decision that China must take in response to the epidemic (…) and it will adjust these measures according to the development of the situation”, explains the foreign affairs release.

In order to prevent the arrival of new cases of infected people, Chinese civil aviation has also limited foreign companies to a single weekly flight to China. National airlines (Air China, China Southern or China Eastern, etc.) will no longer be able to make only one weekly connection from China to a third country.

These announcements come after the authorities recorded, Wednesday, March 25, 67 new imported cases (47 more than the previous day), bringing the total number of imported cases to 541. More than 90% of these cases are Chinese nationals and the authorities say they want to stagger their return so “To prevent them from being caught in the rush to return to China”.

This sudden turn of screw is surprising, because China accused the United States in early February of “Create and sow panic” for sounding the burden of restrictions targeting Chinese nationals due to the coronavirus. Washington then decided to ban the entry into the United States of all non-residents arriving from China. Before banning, on March 11, all flights from Europe and certain other countries. But it was not a blanket ban.

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