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Moscow government uses new facial recognition system to enforce coronavirus quarantine

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has announced on his website that Moscow officials are using the city’s extensive facial recognition system for public surveillance cameras to track individuals subject to quarantines. Two-week quarantine periods have been instituted in Russia for all individuals who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

As of February 21, about 2,500 people had been placed under quarantine in Russia. Anybody arriving in Moscow from China is isolated in the location where they live or simply wherever they stay upon arrival (e.g. in a hotel room). Any individual with detectable symptoms is hospitalized.

Sobyanin indicated that surveillance cameras had been used in a case involving a Chinese citizen who had been incorrectly diagnosed with the coronavirus upon landing in Moscow. While the mayor called the case the result of a laboratory error, he said the young woman had successfully been caught violating her quarantine when she met a friend in her hospital’s outdoor yard. Moscow’s video analysis system also enabled officials to locate the taxi driver who had driven the young woman away from the airport.

Sobyanin said that Moscow Metro employees, city transport employees, police officers, and medical first responders are all involved in “monitoring those who have arrived [in the city] from China.”

As of February 20, all Chinese citizens have been temporarily banned from traveling to Russia.