China will suspend entry to most foreigners beginning this Saturday, as it continues to battle the Covid-19 epidemic, according to media reports.
The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that beginning on March 28, it’s suspending entry to foreign nationals with valid visas or residence permits, Yahoo! News reported, citing The Associated Press.
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.
The AP reports that for more than a week, China has alleged that a majority of its new coronavirus cases have come from overseas.
However, according to a report by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, foreigners account for only a small minority of Covid-19 cases among incoming passengers.
This move Thursday 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, the report said.
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 “now it is China that is working to close its borders to foreign nationals” after in January the Trump administration denied US entry to most foreign nationals who visited China, indicating how quickly the center of the epidemic has shifted.
The World Health Organization recently said the United States has potential to become the new epicenter of the pandemic.
More than 200 deaths from Covid-19 were reported Wednesday in the United States — a new high for fatalities recorded in a single day, CNN reported.
The dramatic spike brought the number of novel coronavirus deaths since the outbreak reached the United States in late January to at least 928.
Sunday morning — less than four days ago — the nationwide total was 326 deaths, according to CNN data derived from state reports.
Officials reported 223 deaths Wednesday, an increase higher than any other day.