China drastically reduces global flights in move to curb imported coronavirus cases

A member of airport security wearing protective gear monitors passengers on arrival at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

A member of airport security wearing protective gear monitors passengers on arrival at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

China has banned foreigners with valid visas and residence permits from entering the country in a drastic move that amounts nearly to a total shutdown of its borders as it also severely restricts worldwide flights.

In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has made a decision to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0:00 a.m. on March 28, 2020, a statement jointly released by Chinese Foreign Ministry and the National Immigration Administration said.

All visa-free transit policies also will be temporarily suspended.

Foreigners holding any type of visa or residence permit will be denied entry apart from those with diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas.

China on one hand is easing curbs in its virus epicentre, Wuhan and on the other it is ramping up measures to stop imported cases, especially its nationals arriving back home from place like Italy which is one of the worst affect countries in Europe.

The country's aviation authority today told Chinese airlines to maintain only one route to any country and limit the number of flights to one per week, effective March 29.

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While China announced on Wednesday that there were no new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus on its mainland for the sixth time in eight days, imported cases still rose.

In addition to sharply reducing the number of worldwide flights, Beijing is also requiring that airlines strictly implement protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and take stringent prevention and control measures on flights to and from China.

China has seen a slowdown in local infections, but has continued to report imported infections.

It's also worth noting that this is something of an ironic twist considering at the start of the outbreak the Chinese government complained about other countries putting restrictions on travelers from China, calling such moves "inappropriate".

The National Health Commission announced 81,285 diagnosed cases and 3,287 deaths from the virus known as COVID-19.

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