Russia will continue to issue official, business, humanitarian and transit visas to Chinese nationals, the country’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, clarifying the conditions of a sweeping entry ban for Chinese citizens announced the day before. The ban goes into effect on Thursday at midnight Moscow time (2100 GMT). It was announced by the Russian government on Tuesday amid the new coronavirus outbreak centered in China that has infected more than 75,000 people worldwide.
It was imposed due to the “worsening epidemiological situation” in China, the office of Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said in a statement. Russia’s Foreign Ministry clarified on Wednesday that the ban is temporary and only applies to visitors with tourist, private, student and work visas. Entry for those who have official, business, humanitarian and transit visas would not be restricted. “We reiterate our willingness to continue close cooperation with China in order to efficiently eradicate this common threat,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
So far, Russia has had only three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus — two Chinese citizens in Russia 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 and monitoring more than 14,000 people 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, Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Russia might start deporting the foreigners infected with the virus.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak has reportedly climbed to 2,004 globally. Over 136 new fatalities in mainland China have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, China’s state health committee officials confirmed. The confirmed cases of COVID-19 have soared by 1,749 and the total global figure has reached 74,185 as of February 19.
According to the reports, the number of people that have been successfully treated has risen by 1,824. This has spiked the total number of recovered patients to 14,376. The novel coronavirus dubbed as COVID-19 first originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicentre of the disease in late December 2019. The disease has spread to more than 20 countries worldwide since the outbreak.