January 29, 2020 / 8:10 PM / 20 days ago

Russia limits rail service with China from Jan. 31 over coronavirus

MOSCOW, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Russia will limit railway service with China from Jan. 31, leaving only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing, in response to the coronavirus crisis, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Wednesday.

“Under a decision of the emergency response centre, we will limit railway service from midnight of (January) 31st, that is from Thursday to Friday. Trains will follow the Moscow-Beijing, Beijing-Moscow route,” Golikova said.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin, speaking about the coronavirus at a meeting with Golikova and Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, said he assumed that the government and Russia’s consumer rights watchdog would do everything possible to be ready for unexpected developments.

The coronavirus has killed more than 130 people in China, prompting some countries to evacuate their citizens from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, while companies have extended Lunar New Year holidays to try to prevent a further spread of the flu-like virus.

Golikova told reporters Russia was preparing measures to bring back its citizens who are currently in China, according to the government website.

Russia will also extend the closure of its land border with China for pedestrians and vehicles in the Far East regions of Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk, Primorsk and Amur, as well as Zabaikalsky Krai, Golikova said.

A decision on flights between the two countries will be made at the next meeting of the emergency response centre on Friday, Golikova said.

In Moscow, authorities said they had put in place special safety measures at hotels and tourist sites in the face of the rising death toll from the coronavirus.

Russian officials have said there have been no recorded coronavirus infections in the country so far but efforts were under way to get all people with flu-like symptoms to undergo medical checks. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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