Russia "Clarifies" Ban On All Chinese: Says Will Still Issue Some Visas

Update (0900ET): Following Russian newswire reports yesterday that the Kremlin would become the first country to completely ban all Chinese from entering the country and freeze all visas for Chinese applicants, the Russian Foreign Minister on Wednesday clarified that it will continue to issue some visas, with very strict guidelines.

Visas will continue to be issued for official, business, humanitarian and transit purposes, the foreign ministry said.

The ban will take effect Thursday at midnight Moscow Time.

The Kremlin imposed the ban because of the “worsening epidemiological situation” in China, according to the office of the deputy prime minister, according to the Guardian.

The Foreign Minister added that the ban is temporary and only applies to visitors with tourist, private, student and work visas.

“We reiterate our willingness to continue close cooperation with China in order to efficiently eradicate this common threat.”

Russia has had three confirmed cases of the Covid-19 disease.

Beijing has made it known that it finds bans on Chinese travelers to be “racist”. Following the expulsion of 3 WSJ journalists over a ‘racist’ opinion column, we suspect the Russian embassy got an earful from their partners in Beijing.

* * *

Update (0845ET): As the G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors begins in Riyadh, the IMF has published an essay warning that newfound “uncertainties” brought about by the coronavirus could lead to a “long-lasting and more severe outbreak”.

In the lengthy piece, penned by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, warns that after central banks around the world including the Fed cut rates 71 times last year, the biggest monetary boom since the global financial crisis has left the global economy in good shape.

Still, China presents a serious problem. If the virus is contained, the economic impact on the mainland will be short-lived, and the knock-on effects for the rest of the world, transmitted via disruptions to global supply chains, will be minimal.

But if Beijing can’t get a handle on this thing, well…

The coronavirus is our most pressing uncertainty: a global health emergency we did not anticipate in January. It is a stark reminder of how a fragile recovery could be threatened by unforeseen events. There are a number of scenarios, depending on how quickly the spread of the virus is contained. If the disruptions from the virus end quickly, we expect the Chinese economy to bounce back soon. The result would be a sharp drop in GDP growth in China in the first quarter of 2020, but only a small reduction for the entire year. Spillovers to other countries would remain relatively minor and short-lived, mostly through temporary supply chain disruptions, tourism, and travel restrictions.

However, a long-lasting and more severe outbreak would result in a sharper and more protracted growth slowdown in China. Its global impact would be amplified through more substantial supply chain disruptions and a more persistent drop in investor confidence, especially if the epidemic spreads beyond China.

The rest of the essay goes on to discuss a host of other global risk factors.

* * *

Tehran is not having a good year.

First, President Trump rang in the new decade by barbecuing the leader of the IRGC Quds Force. In response, Iran killed zero Americans but accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing nearly 200 people, including dozens of Iranian students, then they tried to lie about it, before finally coming clean.

All that was probably enough to destabilize the regime on its own. Though it has quieted down somewhat, the public outrage is still simmering as Iran’s rolling economic crisis continues.

Now, on top of all that, Tehran has confirmed to the AP that authorities have confirmed two cases of the coronavirus in Iran. That means the virus has now infiltrated two of the world’s most isolated states – Iran and North Korea. Many outsiders believe North Korea has confirmed at least one case of the virus, but that it has withheld this information from the international community to avoid inciting a panic.

Like North Korea, Iran’s battered economy, crippled by years of American sanctions, is hardly equipped to deal with the outbreak. According to Iranian media, the cases were confirmed in the central province of Qom. More patients are being tested as an unknown number of suspected cases have been isolated, according to the AP.

Last night in New York, we reported that Japanese health authorities were preparing to release the first batch of 500 passengers and crew who had reportedly tested negative for the virus (though that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility that a few of them might still develop symptoms caused by COVID-19).

On Wednesday morning in the US (so Wednesday night in Japan), health officials revealed that 79 more people onboard had tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of infected aboard the ship to 621, the AP reports.

As we’ve noted several times, the notion that thousands of people are about to be released while hundreds of cases of the virus are still being confirmed seems like insanity. While most of the patients will face two more weeks of quarantine when they return home, how are they planning on getting there? There’s been no word of an official government transport. By allowing them to travel home, Japan is breaking the quarantine.

Seems like a particularly stupid thing to do when the Tokyo Olympics are coming up this summer.

After the virus death toll on the mainland hit 2,000 last night, Johns Hopkins reports that the number of confirmed cases and deaths haven’t moved since then: By their count, total confirmed stood at 75,201 while deaths stood at 2,012.

Johns Hopkins

Last night, the CDC warned that Japan’s quarantine of the ‘Diamond Princess’ “may not have been sufficient” to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

In other slightly more positive cruise-ship related news, the Guardian reports that A total of 781 guests who disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia have tested negative for Covid-19, Holland America, the ship’s operator, said.

As Beijing tries to reassure its population, half of which is under lockdown, that everything is going to be okay, Reuters reports that China’s central bank and its finance ministry won’t send any officials to a G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Riyadh due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, in Wuhan, the twin nightmares of the ‘war time’ lockdown coupled with the ravages of the virus continue to work their wonders.

The yuan strengthened early Wednesday following reports that China is weighing measures including direct cash infusions and mergers to bail out the airline industry and others. Earlier, the state directed Chinese banks to offer emergency loans to troubled companies. The South Korean government and central bank announced a similar plan earlier this week.

As we reported earlier, Beijing expelled 3 WSJ reporters on Wednesday over an opinion column published by the paper that Beijing decried as ‘racist’.

Remember, next time you hear somebody talking about the outbreak ‘slowing down’, take a look at this:

Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/l4sQBVMp2jM/iran-confirms-first-2-cases-covid-19-diamond-princess-confirms-79-more-cases

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