Coronavirus: govt halts issuance of visas to Chinese citizens
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended visas for Chinese citizens over the coronavirus. It will not accept any new visa applications in China, Foreign minister Tomáš Petříček said.
The Czech Republic suspended the issuance of visas on Wednesday. “Visa centers in China are closed at the moment,” Petricek said. The State Department subsequently announced that visa centers would remain closed until at least 16 February. After that, the decision to proceed will depend on the development of the situation around coronavirus. The aim is to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Other possible measures are still under discussion. Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in Litvinov today that he is considering proposing to the government to ban all flights from China temporarily. According to Petricek, however, the airlines that operate the flights may decide for themselves.
The possibility of evacuation of Czech citizens is being negotiated with France and Britain by diplomacy. Paris and London are planning to send their aircraft to China on Saturday. Still, it depends on the permission of the Chinese authorities, he said. “This is a sensitive issue for the Chinese side, and we respect that. They don’t want their citizens to panic in areas where the quarantine is declared,” he said.
Babiš also spoke about the possibility of sending a Czech government plane to China to evacuate citizens.
When Czech citizens return to their homeland, they will face mandatory quarantines. “The priority is to avoid the risk of coronavirus spread in Europe. Quarantine is needed.”
620,000 Chinese tourists visited the Czech Republic last year.