THIS WAS PERHAPS inevitable. As the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, spreads globally (nearly 90,000 cases in 67 countries, according to the World Health Organization), China has introduced restrictions on incoming travellers from virus hotspots, specifically South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy.
Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong will now require them to undergo a 14-day quarantine to prevent the virus from being re-imported. Authorities are also calling on overseas Chinese intending to return home or visit to reconsider their plans.
Confirmed cases are increasing faster outside the country than in now, with the 125 new cases reported today the fewest in the past six weeks, even accounting for the return last month to the narrower definition of infection used in diagnosis. Four out of the five foreign cases are in the four countries on which the new restrictions have been imposed.
As the United States belatedly ramps up testing for the virus, likely leading to an increase in reported cases there, Beijing may have to mirror Washington’s denial of entry to foreign nationals who have visited China, and now other countries, in the 14 days before arriving in the United States, restrictions sharply criticised by Beijing.