Russia suspends ALL rail passenger service with China over coronavirus outbreak starting Monday

All passenger trains between China and Russia, including a direct Moscow-Beijing link, will stop running starting Monday due to a coronavirus outbreak, Russian Railways has announced. It’s unclear when the ban will be lifted.

Russian Railways, Russia’s largest state-run transport operator, announced on Sunday that it is expanding the temporary suspension on passenger trains connecting China and Russia to include a direct link between the capitals of the two countries.

The measure has come into effect at Monday midnight Moscow time [9:00pm GMT Sunday].

The trains, that embarked on their journey from Moscow to Beijing on Saturday, would go no further than Zabaykalsk, a city in Russia located on the Sino-China border, the operator said.

Previously, on Friday, Russian Railways halted almost all service between Russia and China, making only exception for the Moscow-Beijing trains. It is unclear when the railway service will be resumed, with the company saying that the operations would be on hold till “special notice.”

With the death toll from the novel coronavirus epidemics in China reaching 361 on Sunday, and the number of confirmed cases surpassing 17,000, Moscow has been rolling out travel restrictions on those coming from its south-eastern neighbour.

In a bid to prevent to the spread of the deadly virus, Russia has already closed its Far Eastern border with China, halted issuing work visas to Chinese citizens and suspended visa-free travel for Chinese tourists groups. The latter move, however, only applies to Chinese nationals, with Russian tourists being exempted. Some 650 Russians that became stranded in the Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, would be brought home on a military aircraft. Every returnee will face 14-days of quarantine.

Russia has also suspended preferential travel for Chinese citizens to Russia through Mongolia, and restricted the flights from China to Terminal F of the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Most of the outbound flights were cancelled, apart from direct routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong operated by Russian carrier Aeroflot.