Pardon our manners: China to suspend entry to most foreigners beginning this Saturday

An ‘army’ of workers in personal protective gear are among the measures China has implemented in its war against the COVID-19 outbreak. These personnel were pictured in Wuhan, the city hardest-hit by the late December pandemic. (Photo: The Independent)

China has announced it will temporarily deny entry to most foreigners amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that beginning on Saturday, March 28, it’s suspending entry to foreign nationals with valid visas or residence permits, The Associated Press reports. There will be exceptions made for diplomatic workers, and foreign nationals coming for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” will still be able to apply for visas.

For more than a week, China has said a majority of its new coronavirus cases have come from overseas, AP reports. This latest move is “a sign that China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, is seeking to curb the number of imported cases in order to stop its epidemic from flaring up again,” Axios writes. Earlier this week, China said it would lift the lockdown on Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus originated, on April 8.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its Thursday announcement described this suspension as “a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries.”

The New York Times notes that since “now it is China that is working to close its borders to foreign nationals” after in January the Trump administration denied U.S. entry to most foreign nationals who visited China recently, this news demonstrates “how quickly the center of the outbreak has shifted.” The World Health Organization recently said the United States has potential to become the new epicenter of the pandemic.