China announced it is barring the entry of foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits as of midnight Saturday as part of its efforts to prevent a flare-up of the coronavirus pandemic that started in their country.
The communist government says it got the outbreak under control and is worried about a rebounding effect, as cases soar in Europe and the Americas.
“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” China’s Foreign Ministry said. “China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances.”
The coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December. It killed thousands in China before the epicenter shifted to South Korea and then to places such as Italy and Spain.
U.S. deaths reached a grim milestone of 1,000 deaths Thursday, after New York — the nation’s epicenter — reported 100 more deaths in the last 24-hour period.
There are nearly 70,000 cases from across the U.S. though more than 600 people have already recovered, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
President Trump says his late-January decision to ban foreign nationals who’d been in China for the previous 14 days prevented a far worse problem.