February 3, 2020 / 7:33 AM / 15 days ago

RPT-Russia to start evacuating citizens from Wuhan, stops passenger trains to China

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MOSCOW, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Russia plans to start evacuating its citizens on Monday from Wuhan, the epicentre of an epidemic in central China, and has suspended direct passenger trains to the country where the death toll from a coronavirus has increased to 361.

Russia, whose border with China is 4,300-km long (2,670 mile), had reported first two cases of the virus last week in the Siberian region of Tyumen and other in the far eastern Zabaykalsky region, both involving Chinese nationals.

Russia’s aerospace defence forces, part of the armed forces, will start evacuating Russian citizens from Wuhan and Hubei on Monday. There are more than 600 Russians there, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova has said.

Moscow has already restricted direct flights to China and the Russian Railways suspended passenger trains to the country from midnight.

The last train from Beijing to Moscow entered Russia empty as all 136 passengers were taken out at Russia-China border, RIA news agency reported, adding that they all were Chinese nationals.

Demand for medical masks has increased in Moscow’s drug stores, Vedomosti newspaper said on Sunday after visiting a number of places around the 12-million Russian capital, with some places facing a shortage.

In Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, one of the three key hubs for international flights, border control officers were wearing masks and gloves on Sunday evening, a Reuters witness said. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova, Maria Kiselyova and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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