Russia Closes China Border, Braces for $100mn Damages from Coronavirus

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the closure of the country’s Far East border to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, TASS reported Thursday.

“The order was signed today and has taken effect,” Mishustin said as quoted by the state-run news agency.

“We’ll inform everyone today about the border-closure measures in the Far East region and other activities taken by the Russian government [on coronavirus prevention],” he said.

Sixteen out of the 25 crossings along the Russian-Chinese border will be closed as of midnight Jan. 31, the decree said.

Russia has also suspended the issuing of electronic visas to Chinese nationals, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze said on Thursday that the Russian tourism business may lose about $100 million if the situation with coronavirus does not improve in March.

She explained that the summer months account for the peak of orders of tours from China to Russia but they are usually confirmed in March.

“Losses of Russia’s tourism will total around $100 million unless the situation stabilizes by March,” TASS cited her as saying.

She added that Russia’s outbound travel business alone may lose from 500 million rubles ($7.9 million) to 700 million rubles ($11 million) due to suspended sales of package tours to China unless the situation stabilizes by March.

Russia hasn’t registered any cases, despite numerous scares, of the rapidly spreading epidemic that has killed 170 people.

Earlier this week, Russia blocked tourists groups China from entering the country.

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