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1 Feb, 2020 20:02

Russia stops processing Chinese work visas & scraps visa-free travel amid coronavirus epidemic

Russia stops processing Chinese work visas & scraps visa-free travel amid coronavirus epidemic

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.

READ MORE: Air Force planes to evacuate Russians from virus-hit Chinese cities – Moscow

The virus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms in some patients, has infected almost 12,000 people in China, as of Saturday. 259 have died. The World Health Organization considers the epidemic an international emergency. The watchdog, however, did not recommend any travel restrictions, leading Beijing to complain that certain nations have overreacted with their travel bans.

Also on rt.com 'Virus control beyond standards': China warns countries against spreading havoc as more borders shut & flights canceled worldwide

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