In a stunning move on Thursday, China announced from their government website that they would be banning all foreigners from entering the country, starting on Saturday. The ban extends even to those holding long-term and resident visas while only exempting foreign diplomats.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified the broad scope of the ban and criticized some nations’ response to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which originated in the Hubei province capital city of Wuhan in China.

“In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 0 a.m., 28 march 2020. Entry by foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards will be suspended as well. Policies including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign cruise-group-tour through Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries will also be temporarily suspended. Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected. Foreign nationals coming to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates. Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.

The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries. China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances. The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.”

Wuhan was the epicenter of the novel virus beginning in December of 2019 as more than 80,000 citizens became infected. The death toll within China, which has a population of over 1.4 billion people, reported the deaths of just over 3,200 before declaring that they had successfully combatted the spread.

Since that time, Italy and Spain have eclipsed China in reported deaths while requesting medical guidance and supplies from the Chinese Communist Party as they combat the spread of illness. The CCP has been sharply critical of the United States as the viral spread soars. Currently the USA has over 75,000 confirmed cases of which more than 1,000 people have perished.

President Trump has remained critical of the CCP’s handling of the virus in early days, using several key facts to point out that the communist nation did not disclose the global risk of the Wuhan Coronavirus until far too late.

“If people would have known about it, it could have been stopped in place. It could have been stopped right where it came from: China,” the president said last week. “If we would have known about it but now the whole world almost is inflicted with this horrible virus and it’s too bad because we never had an economy as good as the economy we had a few weeks ago. But we’ll be back. Certainly the world is paying a very big price for what they [China] did.” Trump issued a travel ban to those coming from China in January, which was sharply criticized by the CCP as xenophobic, despite knowing they were trying to contain a highly infectious disease.

As reported by the Beijing correspondent for the Singapore Straits Times Elizabeth Law, the ban being handed down to the rest of the world from China signaled an abrupt change in direction after the world’s most populous nation had granted permission for airlines to slowly resume international travel.