China bars most foreigners to curb imported virus cases

BEIJING — (AP) — China says it is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering the country as it seeks to curb the number of imported coronavirus cases.

The foreign ministry announced late Thursday that even foreign citizens with residence permits will be prevented from entering starting on Saturday. All visa-free transit policies will also be temporarily suspended.

It said diplomatic workers will be exempt, and foreign citizens coming to China for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can still apply for visas.

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The ministry said in a statement that: “The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries.”

The coronavirus outbreak originated in China. But as its number of domestic virus cases has dwindled, the country has had to contend with infections brought by people who have recently arrived from overseas. Such infections have accounted for the majority of China’s new cases for more than a week.

A woman pushes a child on a pram across from cherry blossoms at the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. While many of the city's world-famous tourist sites, including the sprawling Forbidden City ancient palace complex, remain closed, spring weather and budding cherry blossoms are coaxing outdoors citizens who have been largely confined to home for the last two months. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A woman pushes a child on a pram across from cherry blossoms at the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. While many of the city's world-famous tourist sites, including the sprawling Forbidden City ancient palace complex, remain closed, spring weather and budding cherry blossoms are coaxing outdoors citizens who have been largely confined to home for the last two months. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)
Returnees from the Hubei Province leave from the West Train Station to board buses in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. China is allowing people who were under lockdown in Hubei to leave the province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak now sweeping the globe. In the nation's capital, authorities are accepting about 800 people a day from Hubei. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Returnees from the Hubei Province leave from the West Train Station to board buses in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. China is allowing people who were under lockdown in Hubei to leave the province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak now sweeping the globe. In the nation's capital, authorities are accepting about 800 people a day from Hubei. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)
A visitor wearing a face mask takes photos near cherry blossoms at the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. While many of the city's world-famous tourist sites, including the sprawling Forbidden City ancient palace complex, remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, spring weather and budding cherry blossoms are coaxing outdoors citizens who have been largely confined to home for the last two months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A visitor wearing a face mask takes photos near cherry blossoms at the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. While many of the city's world-famous tourist sites, including the sprawling Forbidden City ancient palace complex, remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, spring weather and budding cherry blossoms are coaxing outdoors citizens who have been largely confined to home for the last two months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Ng Han Guan)