February 29, 2020 / 7:14 AM / a month ago

Russia asks citizens to avoid foreign travel over virus fears

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A senior Russian official on Saturday called on citizens of the country to refrain from non-essential travel abroad over fears about the growing number of coronavirus cases internationally.

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s consumer health watchdog, told local news agencies that Russians should stay put to avoid contracting the virus.

“In order to consider yourself protected today, first of all possible future trips outside the native country need to be reduced as much as possible,” Popova said.

“Now is a time when it is not worth leaving Russia.”

Despite sharing one of the world’s longest borders with China, where the first coronavirus cases were recorded last year, Russia has relatively few confirmed cases of the illness on its territory.

Three Russian nationals are receiving treatment in Russia after they contracted the virus on a cruise ship in Japan, the authorities have said. Two Chinese nationals were earlier taken to hospital in Russia with the virus but have since recovered.

Russia has quarantined hundreds of people to prevent the spread of the epidemic, and authorities in Moscow are carrying out raids on potential carriers of the virus and using facial recognition technology to enforce quarantine measures.

Moscow’s deputy mayor said on Friday that the country will deport 88 foreign nationals for allegedly violating quarantine measures imposed on them as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ed Davies

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