China bans entry of foreigners holding valid visas to prevent second wave of COVID-19 infections

K J M Varma

Beijing, Mar 26 (PTI) China on Thursday announced a temporary ban on entry of foreigners holding valid visas or residence permits and drastically cut international flights in a bid to prevent a second wave of infections amid a surge in the number of imported cases in the country.

China's National Health Commission (NHC) said while no new domestically transmitted case of coronavirus was reported on the mainland on Wednesday, 67 new imported cases were recorded, up from 47 a day earlier.

China on one hand is easing curbs in its virus epicentre, Wuhan and on the other it is ramping up measures to stop imported cases, especially its nationals arriving back home from place like Italy which is one of the worst affect countries in Europe.

China has announced temporary suspension of entry by foreign nationals holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0:00 a.m. on March 28, 2020, a statement jointly released by Chinese Foreign Ministry and the National Immigration Administration said.

Also, although Hubei province and its capital Wuhan have been reporting zero cases for a while, death toll there continued to rise.

Earlier, China's civil aviation regulator issued a circular on Thursday to further cut international flights as part of efforts to stem the inflow of novel COVID-19 cases.

All domestic airlines were allowed to operate only one flight to each country per week, while foreign aviation companies should keep only one air route to China and there should be no more than one flight every week for each of the air route to China, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a circular that will be effective from March 29.

Stricter measures will also be taken to curb the spread of the virus on flights arriving or leaving the country and ensure that passenger load factor is lower than 75 per cent, the CAAC said, adding that it might further slash international flights if necessary. PTI KJV RS RS