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Countries, Companies Suspend Travel to China as Wuhan Coronavirus Rages On

© REUTERS / Martin Pollard Police officers wearing masks check the boot of a car for smuggled wild animals following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, at an expressway toll station on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, in Xianning, a city bordering Wuhan to the north, Hubei province, China January 24, 2020.
 Police officers wearing masks check the boot of a car for smuggled wild animals following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, at an expressway toll station on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, in Xianning, a city bordering Wuhan to the north, Hubei province, China January 24, 2020. - Sputnik International
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While some countries moved to either bar their citizens from travelling to China or to advise them against doing so, a number of business entities went on to introduce similar measures for their employees.

Even though WHO has argued against travel restrictions for China amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak which was recently labeled a global emergency by the organization, a number of countries and companies proceeded to restrict the movement of their citizens and employees to the country where the pathogen was first detected.

Travel Restrictions

One of China’s closest neighbors, Mongolia, has banned all Chinese nationals and foreigners from entering the country from China by air or by land, starting from 1 February and lasting until 2 March; Mongolian citizens will similarly be barred from travelling to China during that time.

While Russia closed its vast land border with China, the Moscow-Beijing train continues to operate and Russia’s Aeroflot air carrier continues its flights to four key destinations - Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou – though all other flights between the two countries are suspended starting 1 February.

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Iran suspended all flights to China, while Singapore stopped entry to all passengers with a recent history of travel to China, including those who are merely transiting Singapore, and suspended visas for Chinese passport holders.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also imposed a travel ban, though only regarding visitors from China’s Hubei province where the epicenter of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is located.

Visas and Advice

Vietnam moved to suspend providing new tourist visas for Chinese citizens and foreigners who visited China during the last two weeks.

Visa-free travel between Armenia and China has been suspended at the behest of the Armenian government.

Russia temporarily stopped issuing electronic visas for Chinese citizens, with the Russian government moving to suspend providing work visas for people from China as well.

Meanwhile, Japan, Britain, Germany and the United States issued travel advisories for their citizens to avoid China until further notice.

Flights Cancellation

Certain prominent air carriers also had their say in the matter, with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines suspending all flights between the US and China.

While American Airlines said they will halt flights until 27 March, Delta representatives pointed out that their suspension, which will last until 30 April, won’t take effect until 6 February in order to allow their customers who seek to leave China to do so.

British Airways also cancelled all flights to mainland China for a month.

Other airlines who suspended their flights to China include VietJet, RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Air India, Air Seoul, Air Tanzania, Cathay Pacific, Egyptair, El Al, Finnair, Lion Air, Royal Air Maroc, SAS, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, according to CNBC.

Business Response

Several prominent business entities, such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Goldman Sachs, told employees to refrain from going to China, CNN reports.

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While Starbucks and McDonald’s shut down their operations in Wuhan, Johnson & Johnson employees now can only travel to China “for business critical situations” and only with approval from senior leadership, the media outlet adds.

The new strain of coronavirus has already claimed over 200 lives since it emerged in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province last month.

The pathogen has since spread to 20 countries, infecting over 9,600 people.

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