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China will close its borders to most foreigners starting Saturday, the government announced Thursday, amid continued concerns over rising imported cases of novel coronavirus.

Foreign nationals currently holding Chinese visas or residency permits will be temporarily banned from entering the country until further notice, according to a statement from the foreign ministry and the national immigration authority.

The government is also suspending all visa-free transit and visa-on-landing programs. People holding diplomatic passports are exempted from the new rule.

Foreign nationals who must visit China out of necessity need to apply for new visas, and holders of Chinese visas issued after Thursday will be allowed into the country, the statement added.

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