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BEIJING: China on Thursday defended a ban on non-Chinese arrivals from a growing list of countries as "reasonable and fair" as it guards against a resurgence of the coronavirus. Covid-19 first emerged in central China late last year, but Beijing has largely brought its outbreak under control through tight travel restrictions and stringent health measures for anyone entering the country.

In March, as the virus ripped across the world, China shut its borders to all foreign nationals. It gradually eased restrictions to allow those stranded overseas to return with special permission from its embassies, negative Covid-19 tests and a two-week quarantine on arrival.

But in a sharp reversal, as the outbreak once more billows out across Europe, the Chinese embassy in the UK on Wednesday said Beijing had decided to "temporarily suspend" entry from Britain by non-Chinese nationals. Embassies in Belgium, the Philippines, India, Ukraine and Bangladesh have since put out similar notices.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday it was a "reasonable and fair" measure to tackle the pandemic. "China is drawing on the practices of many countries and adjusting its handling of the entry of the relevant people into China based on the changing pandemic situation," said ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.