China suspends visas for foreigners over risk of ‘importing’ COVID-19 cases

Health workers watch as people arrive at the departure level at Beijing airport on November 6, 2020, after China banned foreign arrivals from France and a host of other countries, the latest in a growing number of entry bans as China closes itself off from a world still battling the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)



China on Friday said it has temporarily suspended visas for foreign nationals in countries like India, the UK and the Philippines as it was facing greater risk from “imported cases” of coronavirus.

The Chinese embassy in Delhi said on Thursday that China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into the country by foreign nationals from India holding valid visas or residence permits in view of the coronavirus

China has also made similar announcements for travellers from the UK and the Philippines.

“As the epidemic situation overseas is getting worse, China is facing greater risks of imported cases. In October, the number of imported cases grew by 45 per cent compared with that in September,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here, justifying Beijing’s decision.

“In the meantime, some domestic cases were also found. Under such circumstances, we have learned from other countries’ practices and further strengthened pre-departure prevention and control measures for travellers coming to China,”
he said.

China’s sudden decision has led to the cancellation of several Vande Bharat Mission flights by India to bring over 2,000 stranded Indian professionals to
this country.

Wang also said COVID-19 tests being stipulated for passengers arriving in China were not hundred per cent accurate.

“The pre-departure nucleic acid testing for China-bound travellers has been essential in preventing epidemic importation. However, none of the existing test methods can be 100 per cent accurate at the moment,” he said.

“According to the competent authorities, IgM anti-body test results are stable, and the passengers’ test results can be a lot more accurate if the test methods are combined. That’s why we now need IgM anti-body testing, too,” he said.

He also suggested to China-bound travellers to take direct flights instead of transiting through different routes.