Russia confirms first cases of coronavirus, cancels flights

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova
Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus, saying the infected patients were Chinese nationals who had now been isolated.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said the patients are in the Zabaikalsky region, which borders China, and in the Tyumen region, which borders Kazakhstan.

Golikova told reporters that all direct flights to China from Russia would be halted from 21:00 GMT on Friday.

According to the Moscow Times' reports, the two cases were discovered in different parts of the country, one in Tyumen region in west Siberia, the other in Russia's Far East quoting Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

"They are under strict supervision, isolated and are receiving the necessary treatment. Both are Chinese citizens," she told a news conference.

The two people are in a stable condition, Anna Popova, the head of Russia's consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, told the same briefing.

Golikova said all Russian airlines, with the exception of national airline Aeroflot, will stop flying to China from midnight on Friday. Four Chinese airlines will continue flying to Moscow, she added.

Russia has already closed its 4,300-kilometer (2,670 mile) land border with China to pedestrians and vehicles in an effort to protect its population. Russia said on Friday it would begin moving its citizens out of China via its Far Eastern region on Feb. 1

Golikova said Russia had no plans to limit freight traffic with China but would restrict Chinese citizens traveling to Russia from Mongolia, in addition to restrictions already announced.

She expressed confidence that the measures taken so far would prevent the virus spreading further in Russia, adding that everyone who had come into contact with the two patients had been examined and hospitalized where necessary.

However, Chinese authorities have struggled to control the spread of the disease despite draconian measures. The virus has killed 213 people to date, all in China, and prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.

Many countries, including the United States, have imposed travel curbs and businesses say they are facing supply problems because of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Authorities in Russia said they would begin moving its citizens out of China via its Far Eastern region on Saturday, regional authorities said.

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