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COVID-19 fight: China bars travellers from certain countries, including Britain

November 06, 2020 | 08:07

China is temporarily suspending the entry of nationals from Britain, France, Belgium, the Philippines and India, including visa or residence permit holders, as coronavirus cases surge around the world.

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A woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks by workers smoking outside a retailed shop under renovation at the capital city's popular shopping mall in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: AP

China is temporarily suspending the entry of nationals from Britain, France, Belgium, the Philippines and India, including visa or residence permit holders, as coronavirus cases surge around the world, Reuters reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told media on November 5 that the move is a temporary measure China had to take in response to the current outbreak, adding that the decision is reasonable and in line with international practices in light of recent pandemic developments.

The Chinese embassies and consulates will no longer issue certified health declaration forms for people from the listed countries, the statements said.

Holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected, and foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates, the statements added.

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Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk out from a subway station during the morning rush hour in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Photo: AP

Citing the current COVID-19 situation, the embassies said the suspension is a temporary response and will be assessed in accordance with the evolving situation. Any adjustments will be announced accordingly, the China Global Television Network (CGTN) said.

The restrictions, which take effect in conjunction with a more restrictive testing regime for arrivals from several other countries, drew a frosty response from Britain.

We are concerned by the abruptness of the announcement and the blanket ban on entry, and await further clarification on when it will be lifted,” said the British Chamber of Commerce in China as the blanket bans were announced by the five countries’ Chinese embassies.

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People wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus shop at a market on the eve of Karwa Chauth Hindu festival in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: AP

According to Reuters, England started a month-long lockdown on November 5. Britain’s virus death toll is the highest in Europe, and it is grappling with more than 20,000 new cases a day.

Belgium has Europe’s highest per capita number of new confirmed cases, while France and India are among the top five countries in the world with the most infections.

The suspensions were a partial reversal of an easing on September 28, when China allowed all foreigners with valid residence permits to enter. In March, China had banned entry of foreigners in response to the epidemic.

Passengers must take medical tests

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Travelers walk through Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. Yan Cong | Bloomberg | Getty Images

From November 6, all passengers from the United States, France, Germany and Thailand bound for mainland China must take a nucleic acid test and a blood test for antibodies against the coronavirus no more than 48 hours before boarding, Reuters said.

Flights scheduled for November 6 are not covered by the new rule, since passengers would have done their tests before that day under previous requirements.

China also plans to impose dual-test requirements on travellers from Australia, Singapore and Japan from November 8.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said the antibody test was not widely available in many countries.

“(So) unfortunately, while technically leaving the door open, these changes imply a de facto ban on anyone trying to get back to their lives, work and families in China,” said the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

On November 3, China Southern Airlines, the country’s biggest carrier by passenger load, said it would suspend transit services for passengers embarking from 21 countries, mostly African and Asian countries and including India and the Philippines.

The number of weekly international passenger flights serving mainland China from late October through March is set to slump 96.8 percent from a year earlier to 592, the latest schedules show./.

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