Mongolia’s President Battulga Khaltmaa and other government officials are undergoing a 14-day quarantine after visiting China, where the COVID-19 coronavirus has triggered lockdowns and has overburdened medical systems, said state media.
The state-controlled Montsame news agency said Khaltmaa visited China for one day earlier this week.
“Battulga held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, exchanging views on joint efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and announcing the donation of 30 thousand sheep by the people of Mongolia to China,” the news agency wrote.
But when they returned to Mongolia, which has not reported any COVID-19 cases, Khaltmaa and his delegation were placed under medical isolation “as a precautionary measure,” the state agency said.
It said that he was accompanied by the minister of foreign affairs, a top ambassador, a general, the head of the country’s emergency agency, and several others.
According to the U.S. State Department, Mongolia announced on Feb. 24 that all flights from and to South Korea, which has reported a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent days, will be suspended.
The country also has implemented restrictions on travel to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, people who have traveled to China within two weeks will not be allowed to enter the country, the bulletin said.
“Travelers continue to be prohibited from entering Mongolia from China at land border crossings and via rail. Air travel to/from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau has been suspended until 30 March,” said the agency. “Mongolia has also asked that travelers arriving from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival to Mongolia.”
Schools and universities, meanwhile, have been closed down, and school-age children cannot appear in public places until March 30 due to the virus, according to the notice.
“The Mongolian government has also decreed that public events are prohibited, cinemas and entertainment centers must close, and bars and restaurants must reduce their operating hours during the same period,” the agency said.
Industry news website Argus Media reported that Mongolia has halted all coal exports due to the coronavirus outbreak to curb further infection. Argus reported that two cases have been confirmed close to the border, although other media hasn’t reported on this figure.
Enkhamgalan Byambasuren, the transportation minister, said drastic restrictions on internal movement were introduced after a Vietnamese citizen suffering from a fever was found to have traveled to the Bayan-Ulgii province on Tuesday. Five people are now under quarantine.
Mongolia will also take precautions with other flights from Europe, Russia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, Byambasuren told reporters.
Reuters contributed to this report.