Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on coronavirus fears

The Philippines ‘visa upon arrival’ facility has been offered to Chinese nationals since 2017, in an effort to boost tourism. (AFP)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Philippines halts visas on arrival for Chinese on coronavirus fears

  • There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan
  • Infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam

MANILA: The Philippines stopped issuing visas on arrival to Chinese nationals on Tuesday, in a bid to keep the southeast Asian nation free of a new virus that has killed 106 and infected more than 4,500 since emerging in China in December.
There have been no confirmed cases in the Philippines since the coronavirus outbreak began in China’s central city of Wuhan, but infections have been confirmed in Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
“We are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov,” Jaime Morente, the commissioner of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration, said in a statement, referring to the virus.
There is no order barring Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines, however, Morente added.
He did not say when the facility would be resumed. Chinese nationals can still apply for visas at any Philippine embassy or consulate at their places of residence.
Health authorities are monitoring more than 11 suspected cases of the new coronavirus, they said on Tuesday.
The “visa upon arrival” facility has been offered to Chinese nationals since 2017, in an effort to boost tourism. Those eligible included investors and businessmen, athletes, delegates to international conventions and tour groups.
Chinese tourists accounted for 22 percent of the 7.5 million visitors to the Philippines between January and November last year, making China the second top nation of origin for international travelers to the country.

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Russia says world’s largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage

Updated 22 September 2020

Russia says world’s largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage

  • Russian state firm Rosatomflot has called the vessel the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker
  • The ship was named after a Soviet-era icebreaker of the same name that in 1977 became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole

MOSCOW: A nuclear-powered ice breaker Russia says is the world’s largest and most powerful set off on Tuesday on a two-week journey to the Arctic as part of Moscow’s efforts to tap the region’s commercial potential.
Known as “Arktika,” the nuclear icebreaker left St. Petersburg and headed for the Arctic port of Murmansk, a journey that marks its entry into Russia’s icebreaker fleet.
Russian state firm Rosatomflot has called the vessel the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker. It is more than 173 meters long, designed for a crew of 53, and can break ice almost three-meters thick.
The ship is seen as crucial to Moscow’s efforts to develop the Northern Sea Route, which runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska.
Amid warmer climate cycles, Russia hopes the route could become a mini Suez Canal, cutting sea transport times from Asia to Europe.
“The creation of a modern nuclear icebreaker fleet capable of ensuring regular year-round and safe navigation through the entire Northern Sea Route is a strategic task for our country,” Vyacheslav Ruksha, head of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate, said in a statement.
Prior to its voyage to the Arctic, the icebreaker was tested during sea trials in the stormy waters of the Gulf of Finland, navigating its way through high winds and towering waves.
The ship was named after a Soviet-era icebreaker of the same name that in 1977 became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole.
Russia has stepped up its construction of icebreakers in a bid to increase freight traffic in Arctic waters.
President Vladimir Putin said last year that the country’s Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, the majority of which would be powered by nuclear reactors.