Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed an order to close Russia's border with China in its Far East region in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus, which has killed at least 170 people in China as of Thursday morning.
"An order has been signed today," Mishustin said while opening a government meeting, reports the state-run TASS news agency. "It has gone to work. We will inform everyone today about the relevant measures to close the border in the Far East region and other measures that the government has taken" to prevent the virus from spreading to Russia.
Russia and China share a 2,670-mile border.
At the end of December, Chinese authorities recorded the outbreak in Wuhan and as of Thursday morning, the number of cases in China exceeded 7,700 people, reports TASS. According to a Russian government decree, 16 out of the 25 crossings along the Russia-Chinese border will close as of midnight Friday.
Russia also suspended the issuance of electronic visas to Chinese nationals on Thursday, according to the Foreign Ministry.
"For citizens of the People's Republic of China, the issuance of electronic visas for entry into the Russian Federation is temporarily suspended through border checkpoints located in the Far East, the Kaliningrad Region, as well as through air, sea, automobile, and pedestrian checkpoints located in the city of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region," a translation of the visa decree says. It also asks all Russian citizens now in China to provide their contact information to the Russian embassy.
The Foreign Ministry has not registered any cases despite several scares. Russia has limited all railway links with China, beginning on Friday, leaving only direct trains running between Moscow and Beijing, according to the Daily Mail.
On Tuesday, three Russian regions in the Far East closed their borders with China until Feb. 7, reports Reuters, citing the TASS news agency. The initial border closings affected crossings in the Far East in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk, and Amur regions.
Reuters also reported that Russian tour operators had stopped selling package holidays to China, according to Dmitry Gorin, vice president of the Association of Russian Tour Operators.
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