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Coronavirus Update: Russia Reacts to First Cases

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Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday and said the infected people were Chinese citizens who had been isolated

As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 200 people in China 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 Friday.

In a bid to contain the outbreak, Russia has closed its Far East border with China, banned Chinese tour groups from coming to Russia and stopped issuing e-visas to Chinese citizens. Demand for face masks in Russia has risen thirteenfold over the past week.

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

— Russia‘s aerospace defense forces, part of the armed forces, will start evacuating Russian citizens on Saturday from China due to the coronavirus outbreak, news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

— Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that OPEC+ countries may react if there are significant consequences for the oil market due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Russian news agencies reported. 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.

— As of Friday, Jan. 31, Russia’s consumer protection watchdog said a total of 236 people have been examined for the suspected virus. Nearly 100 of them have been diagnosed with unrelated respiratory diseases, influenza or the seasonal coronavirus.

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

— The Kremlin said Friday that the situation is cause for “serious concern” and that “special measures” for addressing the threat of the coronavirus are necessary.

— 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 Chinese New Year-related 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.

— Gazprom said the virus is not affecting Russian gas supplies to China via the newly built “Power of Siberia” pipeline. 

— The government is considering canceling the Feb. 12-14 Russian Investment Forum in the southern city of Sochi, according to Kommersant.

— 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.

— Russia’s first McDonald’s restaurant scrapped a plan to sell Big Mac burgers for 3 rubles ($0.04) to mark its 30th anniversary. Authorities in Moscow have issued a citywide warning against mass public events due to coronavirus fears.

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

Source: themoscowtimes.com

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