China has barred non-Chinese travellers from Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Belgium and others from entry, imposing new border restrictions in response to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic across Europe.
The Chinese embassy in the UK said Beijing had “decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals.”
“The suspension is a temporary response necessitated by the current situation of COVID-19,” it said .
The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria also said it will no longer issue certified health declaration form for non-Chinese nationals in the country.
The notices said the new restrictions would not affect those with diplomatic, official or courtesy visas or crew members of international flights, trains or other vessels.
The embassy in a statement said “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in Nigeria holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement.
“The Chinese Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria will no longer issue a certified health declaration form for the above-mentioned personnel. Entry by holders of diplomatic service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.
It is not very clear why Nigeria was included in the travel ban having recorded fever cases compared to what the World Health Organization (WHO) called a “critical moment of action” in Europe.
According to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Nigeria now has 63,325 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the first reported case in March.
“On the 4th of November 2020, 155 new confirmed cases and 4 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 7,810 samples across the country.
“To date, 63,328 cases have been confirmed, 59,675 cases have been discharged and 1,155 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 668,729 tests have been carried out as of November 4th, 2020 compared to 635,410 tests a day earlier,” the NCDC said on its website.
The Chinese embassy website in Belgium announced a similar ban on travelers as a “last resort in response to the current pandemic.”
The UK, one of the world’s hardest hit countries with nearly 48,000 deaths linked to the virus and more than one million cases, has entered a new nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Belgium, which has the most COVID-19 cases per capita in the world, has been in lockdown since last week.
Beijing has recently tightened requirements for travelers from several countries, making entry much more difficult.
These requirements include the presentation of a health certificate from the local Chinese embassy showing the results of a nucleic acid test and an antibody test – within 48 hours of travel.
The new rules apply to travelers from countries including France, India, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Pakistan, South Africa and the U.S.
The strict two-test entry requirement and short time frame have sparked complaints.
The European Chamber of Commerce in China said the measures were “a de facto ban on anyone trying to get back to their lives, work and families in China.”