China has temporarily banned entry to foreign nationals in an effort to stop the return and further spread of the coronavirus.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that starting from March 28 all foreign residents holding a valid Chinese visa will be denied entry until an unspecified date. The decision also affects business travellers and anyone who does not normally require a visa to enter China, VisaGuide.World reports.

“In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement (March 26). […] 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 announcement reads.

The entry ban only excludes foreign nationals with diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas, according to the announcement on the official website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Those who intend to travel to China due to “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can also apply for a visa at one of the Chinese Representation Offices abroad. Visas that are issued after the announcement will still be recognized.

While the coronavirus situation in China, where the coronavirus (COVID-19) originated, appears to be calming, the numbers are rapidly rising on other parts of the world. The reported numbers of coronavirus cases in the US has surpassed China, with 85,000 infections as of March 27.

Europe is now the epicentre of the disease, with Itlay, Spain, Germany, and France as the most hard-hit countries. Italy’s coronavirus death toll is the highest in the world – even higher than in China.

On March 11, the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 a pandemic.

China is not the only country with severe travel restrictions. The US has also banned all travellers from the EU and China, and the EU’s Schengen Zone has closed off its borders for the first time since it was created.

See an interactive map of the worldwide travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus.

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