Coronavirus detected in Russia: What we know so far
Cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus 2019-nCoV have now been diagnosed in Russia. The first two patients diagnosed were Chinese citizens who are currently located in the Zabaikalsky region and the Tyumen region, respectively, said Tatiana Golikova, one of Russia’s deputy prime ministers. Anna Popova, who directs the state consumer welfare watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, added that both patients are in stable condition, with no fever or clinical symptoms. They had previously experienced minor fevers and some acute respiratory symptoms. Znak.com reported that the coronavirus was also detected in a college student. She was hospitalized along with five other people: four young men who had been in China and a dormitory director. Rospotrebnadzor confirmed that individuals who had recently been near those patients have also been hospitalized.
There is no risk that the coronavirus will spread in Russia, according to Rospotrebnadzor. Both confirmed coronavirus patients have been isolated in special hospital wards, and their contacts have all been checked for the virus, Anna Popova said. However, Rospotrebnadzor still told Russians to stay away from events with large crowds “because there is a flu virus spreading [whose symptoms are] very similar to those of the coronavirus.” Golikova called on the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacy chains themselves “not to speculate” where the coronavirus outbreak is concerned. She noted that Russia is not experiencing a medical shortage, saying, “Nobody should be worrying or buying up [medications].”
The Russian government is organizing evacuations of its citizens from China. The evacuations will concentrate on Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, the epidemic’s epicenter. There are currently 300 Russian citizens in Wuhan and 341 more in Hubei Province as a whole, Golikova said. The evacuees will be quarantined for 14 days when they are removed from the region; all Russian citizens in Hubei province will be forewarned about the quarantine, after which they will be permitted to choose whether to stay in China or fly to Russia. The Russian government had previously announced that 2,665 Russian tourists will be evacuated from the island of Hainan on Russian charter flights. Those tourists will only be quarantined if they have a fever or other symptoms of the 2019-nCoV infection.
Russia will place limits on air travel to and from China beginning February 1, with exceptions for five airlines. Aeroflot will continue regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Four Chinese airlines will also be permitted to continue carrying passengers to Moscow. All of these flights will be serviced exclusively by Terminal F of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, and Aeroflot will transfer all other flights assigned to that terminal to Terminals D, E, and C instead. Airmail and cargo flights between Russia and China will go on as usual.
The border between Russia and Mongolia will be closed. Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova indicated that no Chinese citizens will be permitted to pass through the Russian-Mongolian border. Earlier in the day on January 31, Russia limited crossings indefinitely at 16 checkpoints on its border with China. However, Belarusian citizens as well as Chinese citizens with Russian residency permits will be allowed to cross at those points, Golikova said, after which they will be quarantined for 14 days.
Chinese citizens will temporarily be barred from receiving Russian work visas. Golikova provided no details on that measure but said the Russian executive branch is preparing an order to put it into place. Meanwhile, Moscow State University has chosen to remove its Chinese students to a distance learning format. For students studying in person who are traveling to Moscow from China, the winter break between semesters will be extended until March 2, 2020. In addition, in the Zabaikalsky region, where one coronavirus case was detected, Chinese citizens are being transferred to China through the Zabaikalsk auto checkpoint. The region’s schools have canceled classes beginning January 31.
Translation by Hilah Kohen