Russia is to enforce temporary travel restrictions on all Chinese nationals attempting to enter the country, as local authorities uneasily watch the coronavirus outbreak wreak havoc in its southern neighbours.
The entry ban goes into effect Thursday, February 20, at midnight, Moscow time, for an indefinite period, a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin detailed.
The Russian government, which had previously closed its long land border with China and Mongolia, said the move was a necessary one due to the “worsening epidemiological situation”.
The new entry ban, however, won’t affect travellers who need to transfer flights at Russian airports, authorities said.
So far, Russia has had only three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus — two Chinese citizens who were treated and released, and a Russian national infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship now quarantined in Japan.
However, Russian authorities have taken significant steps to try to keep the virus from spreading, including hospitalizing hundreds of people as a precaution after they returned from China.
Russia halted most air traffic to China, suspended all trains to China and North Korea, and temporarily stopped issuing work visas to Chinese citizens. Chinese students studying in Russia were told not to return until March 1.
Earlier this month, the prime minister said Russia is considering deportation of foreigners infected with the virus.