China to temporarily bar most foreigners in effort to stop spread of coronavirus

China to temporarily bar most foreigners in effort to stop spread of coronavirus
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China announced Thursday it would temporarily restrict most foreigners from entering the country to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

The measures go into effect Saturday, March 28, with no given end date, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.

The country will not allow foreigners to enter even if they hold valid visas or temporary residence permits, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation cards.

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The policy includes short-term visa holders and foreign tour groups from Hong Kong, Macao, Hainan and Shanghai as well as Association of Southeast Asian Nations tourist groups.

Foreigners seeking to engage in important business, trade, scientific and technological pursuits as well as humanitarian duties can apply for visas from Chinese embassies, and some exemptions will be in place, such as for diplomats.

The statement noted that foreigners who seek entry with visas issued after the announcement will not be affected.

"The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries," according to the statement. "China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances."

The ministry said additional updates to travel limitations would be announced in a future statement.

Last week, the country's National Health Commission reported no new local cases of COVID-19 for two consecutive days, signaling that the country's quarantine measures have aided in flattening the curve of outbreaks that led to more than 81,000 confirmed cases in mainland China.

Still, Chinese officials have focused on stemming the flow of new cases from those traveling from abroad.