Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin issued a decree on Thursday, January 30, to close some border crossing points in the Far East to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). According to the decree, 16 out of the 25 crossing with China will be closed from midnight (local time) on Friday, January 31. The Foreign Ministry also confirmed on Thursday that it has temporarily suspended issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals. Russian nationals have also been advised to avoid all non-essential travel to China as a precaution.
Earlier in the week Russia reduced rail service to only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing. Tourist groups from China have also been temporarily prohibited from visiting the country. No cases of the virus have been detected in Russia as of January 30.
Further international spread of the 2019-nCoV virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks. Additional travel interruptions and screening measures at travel hubs are also likely in the short term.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
As of January 30, cases of the virus have been reported in Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Vietnam. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease