TOKYO -- Australia on Saturday joined the U.S. and Singapore in denying entry to noncitizens traveling from China while airlines canceled flights to the mainland, as part of efforts by countries to limit the spread of a deadly coronavirus.
More than 60 countries have imposed entry restrictions on Chinese nationals over the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan by the end of January, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The U.S. government on Friday banned the entry of foreigners who have stayed in China in the past 14 days. It also placed the citizens evacuated from Wuhan in a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. The Australian government followed the U.S. measures on Saturday while Vietnam decided the same day to halt all services connecting to China.
Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, criticized Washington's decision as "inappropriate" that runs counter to the World Health Organization's call to avoid travel restrictions.
The WHO declared a global health emergency on Thursday as the coronavirus contagion spread. As of Jan. 31, infected people in mainland China exceeded 10,000, and the coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has spread worldwide, confirmed in other 26 countries and regions. The virus has killed at least 259 people, all in mainland China.
Although WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there is "no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade," countries have begun to limit cross-border travel.
Russia, which shares a 4,000 km border with China, has closed 16 immigration checkpoints on Friday, and it has stopped operating rail services with China except between Moscow and Beijing.
North Korea stopped accepting Chinese tourists in late January and has suspended all air and rail services connecting Chinese cities by Saturday. Pyongyang also decided to place all foreign nationals entering from China in quarantine for a month.
Hong Kong has stopped accepting individual tourists from the mainland and suspended high-speed railways, but there has been increasing demand for a complete blockade of the border between China and the city of its territory. There is speculation that medical workers are planning a strike on Monday.
Israeli authorities said Thursday that flights from China would not be allowed to land. Italy, which found an infected Chinese traveler in the country, has decided to suspend flights to China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan until late April.
Three major U.S. airlines -- Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines -- have suspended flights to mainland China. According to the Department of Transportation, 8.5 million passengers traveled between the U.S. and China, with Chinese airlines claiming two-thirds of the market and U.S carriers taking the rest.
Air France has stopped all flights to mainland China until Feb. 9 and Qantas Australia has decided to suspend direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Feb. 9 to March 29. Qatar Airways will suspend flights to mainland China from Monday until further notice, the carrier said on Saturday.
Cambodia has not taken any measure to limit travel to and from China. Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that the country does not plan to evacuate its own people or suspend services to China, saying that "relationships with China must have a long-term vision."