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Saturday April 20th, 2024

China virus outbreak: how governments have reacted

AFP – The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 300 people and infected more than 14,000 in mainland China and beyond, forcing governments around the world to take drastic measures.

From border closures to flight bans, here are some of the steps states have taken to limit the spread of the virus:

– Travel bans –

The United States on Friday temporarily banned the entry of foreign nationals who had travelled to China over the past two weeks.

Major restrictions were also placed on US nationals, with mandatory 14-day quarantines for those returning from the Chinese province at the epicentre of the outbreak.

The only foreign nationals exempted from the ban are immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents.

Australia and Israel followed suit with a similar ban on non-citizens who have travelled to China in the last 14 days.

New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Mongolia have announced similar restrictions on people travelling from China.

– Border closures –

Some nations have closed their borders with China in a bid to protect their territory from the outbreak.

Russia said Thursday it was closing its frontiers with China in the Far East, while Kazakhstan has halted cross-border bus and passenger train services to China.

Mongolia has closed its border with China to cars, while North Korea — an isolated nation which relies heavily on its links with China — banned foreign tourists.

Vietnam on the weekend announced a suspension of all mainland China flights.

Nepal closed its Rasuwagadhi checkpoint on the Chinese border for 15 days starting January 29.

Papua New Guinea went further than the others: it shut its air and seaports on Wednesday to all foreign travellers coming from Asia. The impoverished nation also shut its only land border with the Indonesia-controlled province of West Papua.

– Visa bans for Chinese –

A number of countries have temporarily stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals after the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore has stopped issuing all types of visas to Chinese travellers, while Vietnam — a popular destination for Chinese tourists — has halted tourist visas.

Russia, a close Beijing ally, announced Saturday it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals and also stop issuing them work visas. It had already stopped issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals that allowed them to cross the border in parts of the Far East and western Russia.

Similar visa restrictions of varying scale have been imposed by the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the African nation of Mozambique.

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Sri Lanka discussing giving extra land, water for Chinese oil refinery

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in discussions with China’s Sinopec to give extra land and assure water supplies after the company decided to expand the capacity of a planned oil refinery in Hambantota, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“There are concerns on how the water supply is going to be provided for the refinery,” Minister Wijesekera told reporters Friday.

The refinery will need more land and also revise conditions in a Board of Investment agreement, he said.

Read more
Sinopec to double capacity of new refinery in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota

Recommendations and decisions from Sri Lanka’s side had already been sent and Sinopec is expected to revert back in May.

“We are hoping to sign the agreement once everyone has agreed,” Wijesekara said.

The principle agreements are expected to be signed by June, he said.

The refinery could sell up to 10 percent of its output in the domestic market.

“There is no commitment by the government to purchase anything,” Minister Wijesekera said. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 302.00/50 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 302.00/50 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Friday, down from 301.50/302.00 a day earlier, dealers said.

There was increased demand for dollars after the central bank bought 715 million dollars from forex markets. In the previous two months it was buying on average about 200 million US dollars, leaving market participants and bank in a ‘oversold’ position.

There were some official dollars sales Friday dealers said.

READ Sri Lanka rupee quoted wide to US dollar as peg inconsistencies flare up

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 11.30/40 percent down from 11.35/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.95/12.05 percent up from 11.90/12.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed stable at 12.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed stable at 12.30/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed stable at 12.40/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, banks trade down

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.38 percent, or 44.80 points, at 11,753; while the S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.53 percent, or 18.46 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was at 1.4 billion. The diversified financials (Rs366mn) and banks (Rs266mn) sectors continued to see selling pressure.

“This was possibly due to uncertainty around the bond discussions,” market participants said.

With the exception of Sampath Bank Plc (up at 77.50) all other banks traded down in the day. Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc was down at 104.50, Hatton National Bank Plc was down at 188.50, and DFCC Bank Plc was down at 77.00.

LOLC Finance Plc saw the most trades and closed up at 6.40. Another LOLC company, Browns Investments Plc, also saw high traded volumes and closed up at 5.60.

Softlogic Capital Plc was up at 7.00, and Softlogic Holdings Plc was up at 11.20. A trading suspension imposed on SHL.N0000 was lifted effective today as the company submitted the annual report for the year ended 31st March 2023.

However, shares of the Company will remain in the Watch List “due to Qualified Audit Opinion and Emphasis of matter on going concern in the Independent Auditor’s Report in the Audited Financial Statements for the year ended 31st March 2022.”

Dialog Axiata Plc, which announced its merger with Bharti Airtel Thursday, saw its share price close up at 11.90.

“There was some traction on index heavyweights,” market participants pointed out.

Top contributors to the APSI included Aitken Spence Plc (up at 134.50), Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc (up at 1,245.25, and Lion Brewery (Ceylon) Plc (up at 1,048.50).

There was a net foreign inflow of 5 million. (Colombo/Apr19/2024)

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