Foreigners in China during the COVID-19 outbreak
In early January-February during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, many foreigners in Wuhan called on their respective governments to evacuate them from the city where the coronavirus originated. These countries needed to go through negotiations and safety procedures with the Chinese government before the evacuation could take place. Evacuees also underwent screening tests before getting on board flights. Governments of these countries had to put up quarantine facilities after the arrival of their citizens.
COVID-19 infected foreigners
China’s State Council has announced in a press conference a total of 29 confirmed cases of foreigners infected with coronavirus in China. Of the confirmed cases, 18 people recovered, 2 died and 9 are still being treated. On the other hand, a total of 88 cases were confirmed from foreigners who recently came to China. These foreigners arrived in different cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Gansu, and others.
Epidemic control and prevention policies
Foreigners who chose to stay in China or those who live in other cities except Wuhan have to pay attention to national protocol and preventive measures. Chinese authorities encouraged every community to implement their own regulations or to comply with the local government. For example, in Shanghai, foreigners who live in apartments need to obtain a “permit card” for them to enter their homes. At the same time, they cannot visit their friends in other communities unless they have permission. Furthermore, residents have been taking their deliveries at the front gates rather than at their doors. Community workers also help to make sure that residents get a temperature check and wear masks as they go out.
Many schools and universities in China have advised foreign students to not return to their university without further notice. As Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19 remains in lockdown, many foreign students continue to stay inside the dormitories, while their respective universities implement strict policies. Some foreign students who flew back to their home countries are awaiting futher news from their universities.
Mandatory quarantine on foreigners
With the recent news of imported COVID-19 cases, Chinese local governments decided to put individuals arriving in China under a 14-day quarantine period. These individuals include foreign visitors as well as foreigners who are coming back to China for work or study. For instance, Shanghai and Beijing announced policies concerning the isolation of all international inbound travelers. These cities have imposed self-quarantine at home or at designated hotels for those who have business travels.
Recently, Shanghai also expanded its mandatory measures to require foreigners to undergo nucleic acid testing besides temperature checks, epidemiological investigation and verification of health declaration forms. However, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs later declared a temporary ban on the entry of foreign nationals with valid Chinese visa and resident permits. It also includes short entry visas such as port visas and those covering visa-free policies.
While the number of cases in China has decreased immensely, China now faces coronavirus as an external threat. Police authorities are making calls to check with expatriates who recently traveled to another country, especially where it is badly hit by COVID-19. Experts also advise the government to tighten control over imported cases. According to renowned Chinese medical expert Zhong Nanshan, there is a possibility that the COVID-19 outbreak could end in June. He also noted that other countries should not let their guard down and follow the World Health Organization’s instructions on containing the virus.