China’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that there will be a temporary suspension of all entries into the country from Saturday.
This decision comes as the coronavirus pandemic hits over 540,000 people worldwide and the United States surpasses China and Italy in the number of confirmed cases.
According to the National Health Commission, all but one of the new cases reported on Friday were found among travellers returning from abroad.
The foreign ministry in a statement said: “It is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries.”
The restriction affects foreign nationals holding valid visas or residence permits.
However, people with diplomatic service, C visas, foreign nationals visiting China for economic, trade, scientific or technological activities, or out of emergency humanitarian needs are exempted.
The latter group of visitors may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates. The Foreign Ministry said entry by foreign nationals with APEC business travel cards will be suspended as well.
Airlines are permitted only one flight per week and flights must not be more than 75% full.
These new restrictions are as a result of new reports which revealed that out of 55 new cases across China on Thursday, 54 of them came from overseas.