New Trump travel bans extend to China amid coronavirus crisis

Foreign Affairs

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Photo credit: The latest count of infections and deaths from 2019-nCoV, per the John Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

As it became clearer today that Donald Trump is going to escape his impeachment trial with near-total acquiescence by politicians in his Republican Party, the next round of strict anti-immigrant policies was handed down from the White House. In addition to bans on entry for the 190 million people of Nigeria, and five other countries per the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to completely ban all foreigners coming from China. The New York Times reports:

President Trump has temporarily suspended entry into the United States for any foreign nationals who have traveled to China, the administration announced on Friday.

The action will restrict all foreign nationals who have been to China — other than immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents — from entering the United States.

Earlier today, U.S. citizens were warned by the State Department to not travel to China, and any U.S. citizen returning from China will soon have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Beginning on Feb. 2, any United States citizen returning home who has been in the Hubei province of China within the past 14 days will be quarantined for up to 14 days, administration officials said. Those who have been to other parts of China within the past 14 days will be subject to “proactive entry screening” and up to 14 days of monitoring and self quarantine.

The U.S. is not the only country taking extreme action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from China: Singapore also announced today that it would “close its borders to all new visitors from mainland China, including foreigners who have been there within the past 14 days,” per the SCMP. It is the first country in Southeast Asia to take this step. Taiwan previously imposed a more limited ban on travelers from Hubei Province and tourists (including medical tourists) from elsewhere in mainland China.

Delta airlines has suspended all flights to and from China from February 6 to April 30, and American Airlines and United also announced flight suspensions, though they expected service to resume before the end of March, per the NYT. Those announcements followed a total flight suspension to China by British Airways yesterday.

Other recommended articles to read about the current status of the coronavirus crisis:

Ian Johnson in the New York Times is always worth a read. In his latest article, “Coronavirus and the panic epidemic,” he says:

Instead of having an adult conversation with the population about the virus and putting in place reasonable policies that have been used effectively elsewhere, the Chinese state has gone into full lockdown mode. This demonstrates one of those truisms from political science: Authoritarian governments are like people who don’t have any fingers but do possess two thumbs. They can take forceful actions but can’t fine-tune the levers of government.

Actually, I’m not being fair. When the Chinese Communist Party has time, it can come up with and use sophisticated policies — witness its co-opting of traditional faiths to fill a spiritual vacuum in society.

But when faced with a crisis, the party can’t seem to avoid grand gestures: building hospitals from scratch in two weeks, locking down tens of millions of people, banning millions more from traveling to big cities and so on.

A Wuhan opthamologist who is believed to have been one of the eight whistleblowing doctors reprimanded by police for allegedly “spreading rumors” about the virus, has now been “vindicated by China’s top court,” reported Caixin.

Research based on the first 425 cases of coronavirus in Wuhan has found that the “disease was being spread among close contacts since mid-December.” Internet users have expressed anger at health authorities who only confirmed human to human transmission on January 20, per the SCMP.

Hong Kong schools will remain closed until the beginning of March in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease, the Hong Kong government has announced, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Bloomberg reported that the lockdown in Hubei is “pushing [the province’s] flock of more than 300 million chickens to the ‘edge of death,’” as shipments of animal feed are unable to get through.

How bad will the coronavirus outbreak get? Here are 6 key factors” is the title of a helpful article from the New York Times.

—Lucas Niewenhuis and Alex Smith