As scientists focus on finding a solution to the coronavirus infection, governments around the world are taking steps to ensure the safety of their citizens. Measures include quarantine for suspected cases, travel restriction to and from the affected areas, and equipping existing facilities so that they can successfully treat the infected.
Most coronavirus cases have so far occurred within the country of China, with the center of the outbreak being the city of Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province. The metropolis of over 11 million residents is now under lockdown as a preventative measure.
Russia is also making moves to protect its citizens and the foreigners visiting the country. Although the Russian population is still relatively unaffected by the virus, no risk is going to be taken.
Just at the end of 2019, the government had launched new electronic visas that allow foreign citizens to obtain a travel authorization for specific Russian regions online in minutes. Chinese travelers are among the eligible nationals.
This is just one of the many plans — including airport and infrastructure renovations and new direct flights — in place to boost international tourism and attract foreign investment and arrivals.
However, Russia has now had to take a small precautionary step back. Although travel from China to Russia is still possible, flights from Russia to China have been severely limited and many air routes to the land of the Tsars have also been affected.
Find out why are routes being canceled, what is the risk of coronavirus in Russia, and how to travel between Russia and China.
Why Is Russia Canceling Flights to China?
More than 10,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus outbreak (also known as 2019-nCoV) that is thought to have started in the food market of Wuhan. The virus can be lethal, as so far there have been more than 350 deaths worldwide. At the moment, there is no vaccine available against the coronavirus.
However, over 95% of cases have been confirmed in China and the majority of these have occurred in the Hubei province. In the center of the epidemic, people have been advised to only leave the house for essential reasons while transport connections to and from the affected cities are being interrupted. All this is to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Following the Chinese lead, several countries around the world have suspended flights to and/or from China until the virus is defeated or kept under control. These include Russia, where so far only 2 suspected infections have occurred.
What Is the Risk of Coronavirus in China?
So far, the 2 suspected infections mentioned above are the only recorded coronavirus cases in Russia.
According to the government, the 2 patients have already been quarantined and are currently stable. “They are under strict supervision, isolated and are receiving the necessary treatment,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.
Is It Possible to Travel from China to Russia?
Yes, although services have been affected, it is still possible to travel to and from China.
Chinese airlines that still fly from China to Moscow include:
- China Southern Airlines
- Hainan Airlines
- Air China
- China Eastern
Ikar, a Russian airline, is also allowed to operate flights between China and Moscow.
Flights coming from China will be re-routed through a separate terminal at the Sheremetyevo Airport in order to keep these passengers and crew members separate from others.
Most direct flights from the Russian Federation to China are (or are going to be) suspended, with the exception of those managed by Aeroloft, the largest Russian airline.
The Closure of Borders in Eastern Russia
Russia’s eastern regions border directly with China for a total of 2,670 miles (4,300 kilometers). That’s why three Far East regions have closed their borders with China until the 7th of February 2020. The Russian news agency TASS reports that the affected areas are:
- The Jewish Autonomous Oblast
- Khabarovsk Oblast
- Amur Oblast
As many as 9 border crossing points are currently not functional. Moreover, authorities reported that special safety plans are being implemented in the capital Moscow and other points of tourist interest.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website:
“We have taken special control of hotels and other places where tourists gather […] When alarming signs appear, emergency medical teams will be sent to carry out a thorough examination.”
Closing certain borders is a temporary, cautionary measure. Russia has shown great interest in better and easier movement into and from China. In fact, the completion of the works for the first bridge between Russia and China was recently announced, with the inauguration expected later in 2020.
What Else Is Russia Doing to Prevent Infections?
As mentioned above, the Russian authorities are keeping a close eye on areas of tourist interest. Moreover, travel restrictions for travelers from Mongolia are being put into place.
Deputy Prime Minister Golikova also revealed that there may be a government resolution temporarily suspending the issuance of work visas for Chinese nationals. Chinese travelers can still apply for an eVisa for Russia and no comment has been made regarding the possibility of suspending electronic visas in the future.
Finally, there are currently 600 Russian nationals in the Wuhan and Hubei area. The government is moving fast to assist these citizens and evacuate them as soon as possible. Once they are repatriated, they will be put into quarantine for 14 days to ensure that no contagion has occurred.