Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News | Feb. 20

As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people continues to spread around the world, Russia has stepped up measures to tackle the health risk, including closing most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border with China and temporarily banning Chinese citizens from entering the country. 

Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus and said the infected people were Chinese citizens who have since recovered. The first three Russian citizens have also been infected with the coronavirus onboard a quarantined cruise ship in Japan.

Below are the latest updates on Russia’s response to the coronavirus:

— Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the RBC news website on Thursday that the coronavirus had caused a drop in Chinese trade with Russia of 1 billion rubles ($15.68 million) a day.

— Two Russian citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of infected Russian nationals to three.

— Hundreds of people, including around two dozen Russian nationals, began disembarking the quarantined cruise ship off Japan on Wednesday.

— The 144 Russians evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China have left a quarantine area in Siberia’s Tyumen region following a 14-day quarantine.

— Russia will suspend entry of Chinese citizens to its territory starting from Feb. 20. The temporary suspension will be for Chinese citizens entering Russia for employment, private, educational and tourist purposes.

— Russian national carrier Aeroflot said that it is suspending some flights to China due to lower demand amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

— Russia discharged a Chinese national from the hospital in the Siberian city of Chita on Wednesday after he recovered from a coronavirus infection, the second of Russia’s two confirmed cases of coronavirus to recover. The other victim, also a Chinese national, was also said by authorities to have recovered and been released from quarantine in Siberia’s Tyumen region.

— Russia’s Transport Ministry is proposing to offer airlines 1.6 billion rubles ($25.05 million) in compensation for the grounding of flights to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

— The coronavirus outbreak may delay Russia’s delivery of S-400 air defense systems to China, the state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport said.

— The number of payments made in Russia through the Chinese Alipay payment system was down 73% in the first week of February compared to the same time last year.

— Russia’s Interior Ministry opened a criminal case of hooliganism after a Moscow man was filmed pretending to have a seizure on the metro while his two accomplices shouted that he was infected with the coronavirus. The man has been detained while his accomplices are wanted, the Interior Ministry said.

— Russian authorities have quarantined a top Chinese diplomat as a safety precaution against coronavirus shortly after he arrived in Russia to take up his new post, Interfax reported.

— China’s Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines plan to lay off more than 100 Russian pilots amid wider cuts to foreign staff as the coronavirus outbreak has led to reduced travel into and out of China, the state-run TASS news agency reported

— Authorities in the Chelyabinsk region 1,500 kilometers east of Moscow walked back plans to set up a quarantine center after local residents formed a human shield to prevent entry to Chinese nationals.

— Prisoners in the Kursk region have begun making face masks to be used in correctional facilities after a spike in demand, Interfax cited the region’s penitentiary service as saying.

— The Kremlin has started checking the body temperatures of individuals attending events with President Vladimir Putin as a “precautionary measure,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

— President Vladimir Putin proposed stripping pharmacies of their licenses if they raise prices for anti-virus masks amid the coronavirus outbreak.

— Russia said it will take between eight and 10 months to develop a vaccine against coronavirus, Interfax cited Health Minister Mikhail Murashko as saying.

Russia has set up a quarantine area in Siberia’s Tyumen region for Russians being evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. All evacuated citizens will be held in quarantine for 14 days.

— Russia will temporarily restrict the entry of foreigners arriving from China, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said. She said the restrictions would not, however, apply to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, the capital’s main international airport.

— Russia may deport foreign citizens found to be infected with coronavirus, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.

— Russia postponed the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi due to coronavirus concerns. The forum, which is attended by a string of high-ranking officials and foreign investors, had been set to take place Feb. 12-14.

— Moscow suspended visa-free travel for tourists to and from China and temporarily stopped accepting and issuing documents for work visas to Chinese nationals.

— State-run Russian Railways said it would halt passenger trains to China, including the Beijing-Moscow route, until further notice.

— Russia’s second-largest food retailer Magnit said it is suspending fruit and vegetable imports from China due to the spread of the coronavirus and logistical complications.

 Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that OPEC+ countries may react if there are significant consequences for the oil market due to the outbreak. He said that the oil-producing countries have discussed bringing forward the March OPEC+ meeting, adding that they need several more days to monitor the situation.

— In addition to observing personal hygiene, the consumer protection watchdog advised against loose hair, as well as kissing and hugging in public.

— Apple and Chinese phone manufacturers stopped deliveries into Russia for two weeks, the Kommersant business daily reported.

— Russian universities and employers were advised to extend time off for their Chinese students and workers, either until further notice or March.

— Russian state lender VTB said it has temporarily suspended all business trips by its employees to China and several other Asian countries.

— Russia’s tourism association expects China’s ban on overseas tours to lead to an 80% drop-off in numbers in northern Russia’s Murmansk region, The Barents Observer reported. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) expects Russian tour agencies to lose up to $100 million by the end of March due to the ban.

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.






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