Beijing has temporarily banned Filipinos and foreign nationals living in the Philippines from entering China, the Chinese embassy in Manila announced today.

The embassy said that only those holding diplomatic, service, courtesy, or crew visas could enter China.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in the Philippines holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement. The Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the Philippines will no longer issue Certified Health Declaration Form[s] for the above-mentioned personnel,” in an online statement.

However, foreign nationals who need to enter China for “emergency needs” can apply at the embassy. Non-Chinese nationals living in the Philippines with visas issued after Nov.3 will not be affected, the embassy said.

“The suspension is a temporary response necessitated by the current situation of COVID-19. The above-mentioned measures will be assessed in accordance with the evolving situation, and any adjustment will be announced accordingly,” it added.

The Philippines has recorded a total of as of today. Meanwhile, China, where the coronavirus was first detected in 2019, .

In February, President Rodrigo Duterte, caving in to public pressure, decided to to stop the spread of COVID-19. Before that, he refused to bar Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines and said those who wanted him to do so

“If you ask me if I will bar the Chinese from entering, the answer, of course, is no. That is utter disrespect to a human being… We can assure the Chinese government that we too will help, and this kind of mentioning the Chinese and blaming them [for the virus], it’s like xenophobia,” he said earlier this year.

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