Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng via Getty Images

China will temporarily suspend entry for foreign nationals with visas or residence permits beginning at midnight on March 28 in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It's a sign that China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, is seeking to curb the number of imported cases in order to stop its epidemic from flaring up again. Diplomatic visas will not be affected.

What they're saying:

"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."
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The big picture: Chinese authorities introduced unprecedented measures in January in an effort to contain the coronavirus, including suspending all travel in and out of all cities in Hubei province like Wuhan — where the virus was first discovered — and preventing the province's 59 million people from leaving home.

  • On March 19, health officials reported no new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period for the first time since the outbreak began.

Go deeper ... Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

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