The Chinese government is closing its borders to foreign nationals to prevent a resurgence of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.
The move signals an attempt by officials in China, the point of origin of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, to avoid having foreigners with visas or residency permits reintroduce the deadly bug into the Asian nation, just as cases there wane, Axios.com reported Thursday.
“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, Axios reported.
“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 statement said. “The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.”
In January, Chinese officials suspended all travel in and out of Hubei province, home to Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. The move grounded the nearly 60 million people who call the province home.
But on March 19, health officials reported no new cases in a 24-hour period for the first time since the outbreak began. While China still leads the globe with more than 81,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the number of cases there has since leveled off.
The country has also been critical of the way the pandemic has been handled by other countries, primarily the US.
“The US is the most developed country in the world, with leading medical technologies and top-class healthcare professionals,” the Chinese newspaper Global Times said in an editorial Thursday.
“But it has missed the best timing to contain COVID-19 due to the Trump administration’s slow move, driven by political reasons.”
In a Twitter post Thursday, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, took another swipe at the US.
“The US government has made three mistakes,” Xijin wrote. “1, Slow response, which led to the US likely becoming the new epicenter. 2, Not assuming responsibility as a superpower; giving no substantial aid to allies such as Italy and Spain. 3, Undermining global security.”
Nonetheless, China also came under fire earlier this week when it was revealed that the country donated less than 3 percent to the World Health Organization’s $675 million coronavirus fundraising drive.
A senior White House official called that “shocking and a disgrace.”
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