The Russian government signed a temporary decree Tuesday that bars any and all Chinese travelers from crossing Russian borders.
Russia’s new security measures are in direct contrast to the directions of the World Health Organization, which initially tried to downplay the threat of the virus and claim that travel restrictions were completely necessary.
Since the WHO press conference on January 30, the number of new international cases of coronavirus infection has spiked significantly.
Russia announced the travel ban at 00:00 local time Tuesday, according to RT:
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree on Tuesday evening prohibiting Chinese citizens from entering Russia for tourism, work and for private purposes. The new rules are effective from Thursday.
The decision is the strongest measure yet taken to prevent the entry and spread of the new coronavirus in Russia. Previously, Russian Railways suspended all passenger traffic to and from China, and flights have been heavily restricted. In addition, border crossings in the Far East have been closed.
“From 00:00 local time on February 20, 2020, the passage of citizens of the People’s Republic of China across the state border of the Russian Federation entering the territory of the Russian Federation for labor purposes, for private, educational and tourist purposes, is temporarily suspended,” read a statement issued by the government’s operational headquarters headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.
Additionally, from Wednesday Russia will temporarily stop issuing entry invitations to Chinese citizens for private and educational purposes.
A key factor in Russia’s decision could be the massive Chinese response to the coronavirus epidemic. Video has surfaced showing fleets of “tanks” and trucks rolling down empty streets spraying chemicals, and men in hazmat gear barging into offices and dousing employees with disinfectant.