Russia stops processing Chinese work visas & scraps visa-free travel amid coronavirus epidemic
1 Feb, 2020 20:02 / Updated 6 hours ago
Tourists wearing medical masks in the Red Square in Moscow. ©Sputnik / Kirill Kallinikov
Moscow has temporarily halted issuing work visas to Chinese citizens and suspended visa-free travel for Chinese tourist groups in response to the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
The travel restriction come into force from Sunday. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who ordered them, stressed that the measures are temporary and are only meant to protect people in Russia from health risks posed by the infection — a point he asked the Foreign Ministry to make known to Beijing.
The agreement on visa-free travel for organized tourist groups works both ways, but the suspension by Russia applies only to Chinese nationals and not Russian tourists going to China, government officials clarified to RIA Novosti.
Moscow also suspended preferential travel of Chinese nationals to Russia through Mongolia.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry deployed transport planes to evacuate Russian citizens from the virus-stricken part of China.
The virus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms in some patients, has infected almost 12,000 people in China, as of Saturday. 259 have died.