The government of Kazakhstan has announced measures to combat the spread of a new coronavirus in China, a country with which it shares a southeastern border.
On January 28th, 2020, the deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan, Shukhrat Nuryshev, made the announcement that visa restrictions for Chinese citizens would be implemented.
This is a measure to prevent the spread of the ongoing 2019-nCoV outbreak, which originated in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, over 4,000 kilometers from the Kazak border.
Nuryshev has stressed that the new visa policy is being introduced purely as a precautionary measure, as no confirmed cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Kazakhstan.
Read on to learn about the new Kazakhstan visa requirements for Chinese travelers and the screening processes being introduced to combat coronavirus in the country.
Coronavirus and Travel to Kazakhstan
The first case of the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak was reported in China’s Hubei province on 31st December 2019, and pneumonia caused by the virus has since resulted in a number of casualties in the country.
Since the appearance of 2019-nCoV in China, it has been confirmed that human-to-human transmission is possible. A number of isolated coronavirus cases have also been confirmed around the world in countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and the United States.
Symptoms of pneumonia caused by coronavirus include:
- Dry cough
- Chest pain
- Labored breathing
On January 23rd, the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted an emergency panel In Geneva to discuss the outbreak but decided it was too early to designate the virus as a “public health emergency” of international concern.
Nevertheless, a number of countries, including Kazakhstan, have begun to implement measures to prevent the virus from crossing borders, including visa restrictions and virus screening facilities at border entry checkpoints.
Kazakhstan Visa Restrictions for Chinese Citizens
As a protective measure against the spread of the new coronavirus, the government of Kazakhstan has confirmed the temporary implementation of visa restrictions for Chinese citizens while the outbreak is ongoing.
Chinese citizens were previously able to submit an online Kazakhstan visa application to receive an approved tourist visa for Kazakstan sent by email, eliminating the need to apply for travel authorization from an embassy or consulate.
However, foreign minister Nuryshev confirmed that the online Kazakhstan visa application for Chinese citizens will be suspended for the time being. Chinese citizens who submit an eVisa application during this suspension period will have their Kazakhstan visa denied.
The Kazakh government has also announced that the 72-hour visa-free policy for transit passengers from China has also been suspended.
During the suspension period, Chinese citizens who wish to travel to Kazakhstan are required to apply for a visa from a Kazakh diplomatic office and provide a medical certificate showing a clean bill of health as supporting documentation.
As an extra preventative measure, all travelers who are permitted to visit Kazakhstan from China will receive virus screening and medical attention, if required, upon arrival at the Kazakh border.
Nuryshev has said there are no plans to completely close the China-Kazakhstan border, as this would prevent the roughly 1,300 Kazakhs in China from returning home. Indeed, he confirmed that the government has already asked Beijing to allow 98 Kazakh students in Wuhan to return to Kazakhstan, pending screening for the 2019-nCoV virus.
Advice for Chinese Travelers to Kazakhstan
Although Chinese travel to Kazakhstan will be restricted while the coronavirus outbreak is outgoing, Chinese citizens who comply with the temporary application procedures will still be able to obtain a visa for Kazakhstan.
Nevertheless, Chinese citizens planning to visit Kazakhstan during the eVisa suspension period are advised to anticipate additional security checks at Kazakh airports upon arrival.
Those planning to visit Kazakstan from China, especially from Hubei province, are also advised to monitor the situation as it develops and to consider the following advice to reduce the risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid contact with either alive or dead animals, and markets where animals are sold
- Avoid eating undercooked animal products
- Keep a distance from anyone displaying symptoms of 2019-nCoV, such as labored breathing
- Frequently wash hands and consider wearing a face mask
- Seek medical attention if developing suspected symptoms of the virus. Call emergency services to avoid spreading the virus by visiting a doctor or hospital
- Follow any instructions issued by local authorities and the travel advisory of their home government