China’s Foreign Ministry has blasted the U.S. government for restricting the entry of Chinese nationals due to the corona virus outbreak, which this week was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. 

On Saturday, Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said although the WHO has only just specifically advised against any travel restrictions, the U.S. has decided to act in the opposite way.

 “This has set a bad example.

 “It is certainly not a gesture of goodwill,’’ Hua said.

 New U.S. measures include a ban on the entry of foreign nationals, other than the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have travelled in China within the last 14 days.

 The U.S. also took the “unprecedented” step of placing 195 U.S. citizens who recently returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan in quarantine for 14 days. 

Schools, factories and offices across China are due to remain closed even as the week-long lunar New Year holiday comes to an end.

Apple on Saturday became the latest company to announce the closure of its stores in mainland China to prevent the spread of the virus, with the measure set to remain on place until Feb. 9. 

According to the most recent figures from Chinese health officials, the number of people infected with the new corona virus in China has risen to over 11,000, while a total of 259 people have died. 

Officials in Hubei province in central China, the epicenter of the corona virus crisis, said an additional 1,347 new cases had been reported in that province alone, bringing the number of infections there to 7,153. 

Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, and many other Chinese cities have been placed on lock-down. 

The number of people infected and China’s national death toll are expected to climb further once other regions report their latest statistics. 

Over 100 other people have become ill in about 24 countries across the globe. 

Sri Lanka became the latest country to report a case when a Chinese woman travelling there was found to have corona virus. 

The European Union and several countries have already flown their citizens out of China, including the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Jordan, Britain and most recently Sri Lanka, India and Turkey.

 A German air force jet left Wuhan to evacuate 130 people, 90 German citizens and around 40 citizens of other countries.

 The returnees are to be quarantined at an army barracks near Frankfurt airport.

Hundreds of flights to and from China have been cancelled around the world, including those run by Air Canada, Lufthansa, British Airways Turkish Airlines, United, American Airlines, KLM, Air France, Qantas and Delta. 

Russia announced earlier this week it was closing its land border with China, similar to steps taken by China’s other neighbours. 

Moscow reported its first case of the virus on Friday. 

Both the U.S. and Japan told citizens not to travel to China, with Washington issuing a warning on par with its advisories for Afghanistan and Iran.

The Italian government on Friday declared a six-month state of emergency in response to the first confirmed cases of the new corona virus in the country.

The decision resulted in five million Euros (5.5 million dollars) being earmarked for civil protection purposes. 

Italian cruise company Costa announced on Friday that it would not allow anyone who had been in China in the last 14 days on board – including guests, visitors or crew members of any nationality. 

The corona virus broke out at a seafood market in Wuhan that reportedly sold exotic animals for consumption – similar to the outbreak of SARS.

 SARS, a disease that infected 8,000 people and killed 800 globally, was linked to the consumption of civet cats, another exotic meat.

 The corona virus belongs to the same family of viruses. (NAN)