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Russia halts railway service with China to avoid coronavirus epidemic

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced on Wednesday that Russia will suspend railway service with China starting 00:00 January 31 to avoid the spread of coronavirus epidemic into Russian Federation.

The only exception will be made for trains running directly between Moscow and Beijing.

“Starting Thursday night (00:00 Moscow time January 31), we are suspending railway service. Trains will only follow the route Moscow-Beijing and Beijing-Moscow,” Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Besides, we opted for extending the border shutdown for both pedestrians and vehicles in five regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, namely the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Khabarovsk, Primorsky and Trans-Baikal Regions,”  Golikova added.

“As for the flight service, we have agreed that in the next two days, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior will analyze the number of our citizens returning to Russia, and then a decision on flights from China and to China will be made,” she continued.

“We will be recommending our universities to inform students from China, who study at Russian universities but have gone to China on New Year holidays, that their holidays will be extended until March 1, 2020,” the deputy premier said.

Currently, Russia and China are connected by trains between Beijing and Moscow, Suifenhe and Grodekovo, as well as between Chita and Manzhouli.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about an outbreak of an unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan – a large trade and industrial center in central China populated by 11 million people. On January 7, Chinese experts identified the infecting agent: coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

According to recent data, over 6,000 people have been infected with the virus, with over 130 people dead. The virus continues to spread in China and other states, including Australia, Vietnam, Italy, Germany, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the USA, Thailand, France, Sri Lanka and Japan. The WHO recognized the pneumonia outbreak in China as a national emergency but stopped short of declaring an international one.

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