World News

Russia keeps border with China part-closed over virus fears, suspends e-visas

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Thursday kept its lengthy land border with China partially closed to try to prevent the coronavirus spreading from its southern neighbour and suspended the issuance of electronic visas to Chinese nationals.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia, which shares a 4,300 km-long (2,670 mile) border with China. Rail freight is continuing to circulate between the two countries, direct daily flights are continuing, and a passenger train that operates between Moscow and Beijing remains in service.

But Moscow has imposed various restrictions to protect its population, including closing its land border with China to pedestrians and vehicles, a measure Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said late on Wednesday it would roll over.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it would temporarily stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals and recommended Russians refrain from travelling to China unless it was “absolutely necessary”.

The ministry said it would suspend e-visas for Chinese nationals wanting to enter Russia via its Far East and the Kaliningrad region and for air, sea, road and pedestrian entry points in St Petersburg and the wider Leningrad region.

The Russian government has told Chinese students who returned home for holidays to stay there until at least March 1.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones and Catherine Evans