Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday, 26 March 2020


China bars foreigners amid concerns of second virus wave Beijing suspends entry to visa holders after eased restrictions spark new cases The new measures will prevent entry by almost all holders of visas and residence permits 

Beijing said it would temporarily suspend visits from almost all foreign nationals amid mounting fears those returning to China after the country eased its travel restrictions were sparking a second wave of cases. The new measures, announced by China’s foreign ministry on Thursday, would prevent entry by almost all holders of visas and residence permits starting on Saturday. A small number of diplomatic visa holders would be exempt, the ministry said. In its announcement, the ministry said it had “no alternative” to the new restriction given the mixed response to the pandemic in other countries. It did not mention which countries it believed were at fault. Beijing told a group of global health officials this week that it had been forced to rethink policies after the moderation of its lockdown triggered an influx of overseas travellers who may be carrying the virus, according to Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.  “Our Chinese colleagues are very concerned,” said Mr Fauci, who said the concern was raised on a call organised by the World Health Organization. “They have very, very few [new] cases, but what they’re starting to see as they’re relaxing the constraints on travel, that they’re getting imported cases.” Recommended AnalysisCoronavirus Voices from Hubei: residents welcome liberation after quarantine 

Last week, China for the first time reported it had recorded no new Covid-19 cases from local transmissions and began easing its internal travel restrictions, including to and from Hubei province, the origin of the coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese figures, which include an official tally of 81,285 cases, do not include positive tests of people who do not exhibit symptoms, casting doubt on some of its data. Still, Beijing’s move to ban foreigners returning to China raises concerns that the global lockdown may not be sufficient to snuff out the outbreak since it threatens to flare up once restrictions are lifted. President Donald Trump has expressed hope of ending lockdowns in the US by Easter. China said that, other than the exemption for diplomats, others seeking exemptions — including those who need to come to China for urgent humanitarian reasons — must apply for a waiver in advance.

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