Russia has decided to ban Chinese nationals from entering its territory amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

1Russia media reports say such a decision has been made by the commission on prevention of importation and spread of new coronavirus infection in the territory of Russia.  The decision has been signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.  

The ban will not apply to transit passengers, according to RIA Novosti.

The ban will be implemented from February 20.

Following a meeting on preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Russia, the office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Tatyana Golikova, announced that from 00:00 local time on February 20, 2020, the passage of citizens from the People’s Republic of China across the state border of the Russian Federation is temporarily suspended. 

The ban will affect Chinese citizens travelling for private, educational, working and tourist purposes, the statement added.

The statement did not say how long the measure was expected to be in place.

So far Russia has had two confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection, both Chinese citizens who have been hospitalized in Siberia.  They have both recovered and have been discharged from hospital.

Russia also previously halted visa-free entry for Chinese tour groups.

The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been mainly contained to mainland China, although cases have been detected in at least 30 other countries.

Meanwhile, China on February 18 reported its lowest number of new infections since January and its lowest daily death toll for a week, but the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was too early to say whether the outbreak had peaked.