China virus outbreak: how governments have reacted


  • ASEAN+
  • Saturday, 01 Feb 2020

Singapore army personnel and volunteers preparing free face masks packages at SAFTI Military Institute, before distributing them around the country, in Singapore on Saturday (Feb 1). - Reuters

BEIJING: The coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 250 people and infected thousands in mainland China and beyond has forced governments around the world to take drastic measures.

From border closures to flight bans, here are some of the steps states big and small have taken to limit the spread of the virus:

Travel bans

The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency and temporarily banned the entry of foreign nationals who had travelled to China over the past two weeks.

Major restrictions were also placed on US nationals, with mandatory 14-day quarantines for those returning from the Chinese province at the epicentre of the outbreak.

The only foreign nationals exempted from the ban are immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents, health secretary Alex Azar said.

Australia followed suit with a similar ban on non-citizens who have travelled to China in the last 14 days.

Singapore, Malaysia and Mongolia have announced similar restrictions on people travelling from China.

Border closures

In a bid to protect their territory from the outbreak, some nations have closed their borders with China. Russia said Thursday it was closing its border with China in the Far East.

Kazakhstan has halted cross-border bus and passenger train services to China.

Mongolia has closed its border with China to cars, while North Korea -- an isolated nation which relies heavily on its links with China -- banned foreign tourists.

Nepal closed its Rasuwagadi checkpoint on the Chinese border for 15 days starting Jan 29.

Papua New Guinea went further than the others: it shut its air and seaports on Wednesday to all foreign travellers coming from Asia. The impoverished nation also shut its only land border with the Indonesia-controlled province of West Papua.

Visa bans for Chinese

A number of countries have temporarily stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals after the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore has stopped issuing all types of visas to Chinese travellers, while Vietnam -- a popular destination for Chinese tourists -- has halted tourist visas.

Russia, a close Beijing ally, announced this week that it would stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals.

Similar visa restrictions of varying scale have been imposed by the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the African nation of Mozambique. - AFP

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