Prague, Jan 30 (CTK) – The Czech Foreign Ministry has suspended the issuing of visas for Chinese citizens over the coronavirus infection and it does not accept new visa applications in China, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists today.
“Our visa centres in China are closed at the moment,” he said.
The Czech Republic suspended the issuing of the visas on Wednesday.
Negotiations about further possible measures are underway.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said earlier today that he is considering proposing a temporary ban on all flights from China to the Czech Republic to the government on Monday for fears of the new coronavirus infection.
Petříček said it may happen that the airlines that operate the flights from China would take such a step themselves.
Petříček said the ministry is still dealing with the possible evacuation of Czech citizens from the regions hit by the infection.
He said three other Czechs addressed Czech diplomatic offices with a request for evacuation from China. In total, five Czech people would like to evacuate, he added. Petříček said his ministry is negotiating with France and Britain about the possible evacuation of Czechs. He added that cooperation with Germany is also possible.
France and Britain plan to send their aircraft to China on Saturday, but it still depends on a permission from Chinese authorities, Petříček said.
“It is a sensitive issue for China, which we respect. They want to keep the situation calm so that their citizens do not panic in areas in which there is a quarantine,” he said.
The Czech government will be considering sending a special plane if it is not clear at the end of weekend that all Czechs who asked for evacuation can be moved to Europe.
Petříček said he talked with Babiš about the issue.
Babiš said earlier today the government special plane might be sent to evacuate Czech citizens from China back home if their return was not solved by Saturday.
If the Czech plane flies to China, it will probably offer to take other EU citizens aboard as well, Petříček said.
He said it is a question when the Czechs would return home as this also depends on possible quarantine measures. “The priority is to prevent the risk of coronavirus spreading in Europe,” he said.
According to the estimate of the CzechTourism agency, roughly 620,000 Chinese tourists came the Czech Republic last year. Each Chinese tourist spent 2.5 days in the country on average.