Chinese diplomats were dumbstruck after Russia barred entry to Chinese citizens as a coronavirus prevention measure, business daily Kommersant reported Wednesday.
Russia announced the temporary entry ban for Chinese tourists, workers, students and private travelers starting Thursday. The suspension does not affect non-Chinese nationals traveling from China, and Chinese transit passengers will be allowed to pass through Russia.
“The decision was made at a time when the number of cases has declined, so it’s not clear what logic guided the Russian authorities,” an unnamed diplomatic source told Kommersant.
The publication did not specify whether it quoted a Chinese or Russian diplomatic source.
While death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China surpassed 2,000 on Wednesday, the number of new cases there has fallen for a second consecutive day.
China’s foreign ministry said that Russia had informed Beijing of the entry ban in advance.
It added that it understood that Moscow’s steps “aren’t a complete travel ban but are temporary initiatives that will be adjusted or even lifted as soon as the situation improves.”
The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russia is taking “every measure” to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it continues to issue business, humanitarian and transit visas to Chinese citizens. It suspended the issuance of work visas and electronic visas for Chinese citizens earlier this month.
Experts estimate that Russia’s tourism industry could lose almost 3 billion rubles (nearly $48 million) from the entry ban, while some analysts have even predicted the crisis will slow down Russia’s economy in general. The losses could grow tenfold if the ban isn’t lifted by the summer.