Mainland China has blocked entry to non-Chinese visitors from the UK, Belgium and the Philippines as cases soar in the countries, and has implemented new health-screening requirements for travelers from France, Germany and the US.

China has issued statements through its embassies in Belgium, the Philippines and Great Britain announcing the temporary suspension of entry for non-Chinese nationals, even if they hold visas or residency permits.

The embassies wrote that the travel ban “is a temporary response necessitated by the current situation of COVID-19” and the measures “will be assessed in accordance with the evolving situation.”

The ban comes as England enters a four-week lockdown that started at midnight on Thursday, as the country struggles to control the second wave, reporting over 25,000 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Belgium has Europe’s highest number of Covid-19 cases per capita and the Philippines has the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths in Southeast Asia.

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) in China criticized the swift move, which is one of the strictest travel restrictions issued by any country in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The BCC in China stated: “We are concerned by the abruptness of the announcement and the blanket ban on entry and await further clarification on when it will be lifted.”

This isn’t the first time that China has implemented a sweeping travel ban to fight the coronavirus. In March, mainland China banned all foreigners from entering the country in response to the pandemic.

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