China has banned many non-Chinese travelers from entering the country under strict new border restrictions imposed in a second wave of COVID sweeps around the world.
The ban applies to the United Kingdom as a second wave of restrictions begins, and also applies to citizens of Belgium, India and the Philippines. It has been described as a “temporary reaction” to the “current situation of COVID-19”.
The UK is one of the hardest hit countries in the world, with a total of 1,099,059 positive virus cases and nearly 48,000 deaths. This was announced by the Chinese Embassy in Great Britain in a statement: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China for non-Chinese nationals in Great Britain who hold a visa or residence permit that is still valid at the time of this announcement. The Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom will no longer issue certified health declaration forms for the above mentioned personnel”.
The entry of holders of diplomatic, service and courtesy visas will not be affected, the embassy said. “Foreign nationals visiting China for emergency purposes can apply for visas at the Chinese embassy or consulates. The entry of non-Chinese nationals into the UK on visas issued after November 3 is not affected.
“The suspension is a temporary response, which is necessary due to the current situation of Covid-19. The above measures will be evaluated according to the evolving situation and any adjustment will be announced accordingly.
The same statement appeared on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium, which has the highest number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Belgium was banned nationwide for the second time last week as scientists and officials said the government’s already severe restrictions were not working and deaths were doubling every six days. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data, there were 452,447 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 12,126 deaths.
The embassy in the Philippines, which has one of the largest case numbers in Southeast Asia, also confirmed the travel ban today. The Philippines has reported 388,137 confirmed cases and 7,367 deaths, the WHO said. The statement also appears on the website of the Chinese Embassy in India, where there have been 8,364,086 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 124,315 deaths.
New rules for those allowed into China were also announced as Beijing is desperately trying to keep the outbreak contained as China’s economy begins to recover.
Starting Friday, all passengers from the U.S., Germany, Czech Republic and France must have a negative COVID and antibody test result within 48 hours of departure. For passengers from Denmark, this rule applies from November 7, and for passengers from Australia, Singapore and Japan, this rule applies from November 8.
Officials have said that the antibody test should protect against false negative results in nucleic acid tests. A negative test for the antibody immunoglobulin M or IgM, the body’s first reaction to the virus, would indicate that a person has never been exposed to the virus or that they have been infected and have recovered.
Despite attacks on China’s early virus response, particularly attempts to cover up the outbreak and silence health workers who tried to raise their voices, there were 92,077 confirmed cases and only 4,747 deaths in China, according to the WHO. The Chinese government has presented its efforts as extremely successful in containing COVID-19 and denied any cover-up.