On Thursday, China officially banned most foreigners from entering the country, concerned that they may bring the COVID-19 virus back into the country after transmission has allegedly slowed down. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote:
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, effective from 0 a.m., 28 march 2020. Entry by foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards will be suspended as well. Policies including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign cruise-group-tour through Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries will also be temporarily suspended.
Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected. Foreign nationals coming to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates. Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.
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 will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances. The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.
After President Trump reacted swiftly to the WHO’s announcement that human transmission of COVID-19 was possible, issuing his travel ban on people coming from China the very next day, he was attacked for his alleged xenophobia by various quarters, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who attacked Trump at a campaign rally, saying, “In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do. This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fear mongering.”
After Trump implemented the travel ban from Europe, Biden tweeted, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.”
On Tuesday morning, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was interviewed on the radio and lauded Trump for his swift reaction, saying:
I believe Italy got into this much trouble for a number of reasons which hopefully we have avoided, namely the influx of cases from China were not shut off immediately in Italy and one of the important things that we did was the president’s decision to very early on, stop the influx, first from China, and now from Europe, particularly the countries Italy, France and others, the entire European Union. Because one of the things that feeds the country is when you have influx of cases from outside.