Russia’s Foreign Ministry has clarified the conditions of a sweeping entry ban for Chinese citizens which was announced on Feb. 18 in a bid to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
The ban will be partial and only affect those who travel with tourist, private, student, and work visas while visitors with official, business, humanitarian, and transit visas will still be allowed into the country, the ministry said. It will go into effect on Feb. 20 at midnight Moscow time.
Russia has so far confirmed three cases of COVID-19, including two Chinese citizens who have been treated, and a Russian national who became infected aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan.
Earlier this month, it was reported that two women being quarantined in Russian hospitals after returning from Hainan, a tropical region in southern China, had escaped after complaining of dire conditions, uncooperative doctors, and lax protocols.
One patient, who was placed in the isolation area along with her son, reportedly managed to jump out of the hospital window to escape. No charges have been reported.
The second woman claimed that medics who bought her to the hospital for coronavirus testing had promised she would be released 24 hours later but she was informed she would have to remain quarantined for two weeks.
She reportedly short-circuited the electronic lock that kept the door closed in the isolation unit of the St. Petersburg hospital room and fled. However, authorities ordered she return back to the facility just days later, according to local media reports, and the chief sanitary doctor of the Botkinskaya clinic filed a lawsuit against her, arguing that she presented a public health risk.
Several weeks ago, Russia announced it would close its 2,500-mile border with China and Mongolia amid fears of the virus. It has also suspended all trains to China and North Korea, and halted most air traffic to China with exceptions for four Chinese airlines and flagship Russian carrier Aeroflot. It has also extended a school vacation for Chinese students until March 1.
The new disease is believed to have originated in Wuhan in Hubei province in December 2019 and has promoted a lockdown on dozens of Chinese cities. The origin of the virus is unknown.
Symptoms of the new virus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Some people show more severe symptoms such as pneumonia.
Hundreds of people have been killed by the virus, mostly in China, and thousands more are believed to have been infected. Some experts believe the true number of cases and deaths in that country, ruled by a communist government, is actually higher.
“Our daily rate of transporting and cremating bodies is 4-5 times higher than normal.”
— The Epoch Times – China Insider (@EpochTimesChina) February 14, 2020
The Associated Press and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.