China Restricts Flights To Stop Passengers Importing Coronavirus

Yesterday, China announced the implementation of a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, including those with visas or residence permits. Now that China considers itself through the worst phase of its viral outbreak curve, the country is making sure it maintains control of the situation.

China Restricts Flights To Stop Passengers Importing Coronavirus
China’s largest airlines are state-owned. Photo: Getty

The new rules and details of the travel ban

According to the BBC, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is to suspend the entry of foreign nationals because of the “rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world”. While the ban applies to all foreigners including those with visas and residency status, there are two groups exempt: those who have “C visas” (typically aircrew) and diplomats.

CES aircraft
The roles are reversed as many countries around the world roughly two months ago had initially banned travelers who had recently been to China. Photo: Getty

Furthermore, USA Today reports that those providing vital economic, scientific or technological services or emergency humanitarian support are still eligible to apply for visas.

The Chinese government is also putting a limit on Chinese and foreign airlines, limiting them to just one flight per week. Furthermore, those flights may not be more than 75% full.

Why is this happening?

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens in other countries around the world (mainly Italy, Spain, and the United States), China’s situation has been improving. This can be attributed to the fact that its city of Wuhan was the origin of the outbreak last December and has had time to deal with its outbreak.

Once the government came to acknowledge the severity of the problem, it locked down the city of Wuhan in January. The Chinese government also built a 1,000-bed emergency hospital within a span of 10 days. A number of neighboring cities were also put under strict lockdown in late January. The Guardian called it “the largest lockdown in human history”, which also saw Chinese officials go door-to-door for health checks, forcing sick people into isolation.

Because of these extreme actions, China was eventually able to limit the spread of the virus, to the extent that it now feels safe easing certain restrictions. For example, Tuesday saw the Hubei provincial government announce that it would lift the control order on residents of the region, not including the city of Wuhan. Wuhan’s lockdown is scheduled to be eased on April 8th.

SWISS, Beijing, Daxing Airport
China Southern has drastically cut its international flights as travel restrictions have limited passengers. Photo: Getty

Currently, there are still cases arising in China. However, the rate of infection has dropped significantly and the country claims the majority of cases are “imported” from abroad. Therefore, the Chinese government sees it fit to impose restrictions on its borders to ensure the virus continues to remain under control within its borders.

Conclusion

It makes sense for China to impose these restrictions as other countries have yet to reach their own peaks in the course of this pandemic. However, there has been some skepticism with regard to China’s positive news.

In fact, claims have been questioned by residents and analysts, according to the Guardian. Reports have surfaced of refusals to test for the virus by some hospitals. Furthermore, there have been allegations of manipulated numbers, and rumors of unreported cases. We can only hope that this is not the case and that we are in fact seeing signs of recovery.

Do you think China is through the worst of its coronavirus situation? Let us know in the comments.

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