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Russia closes border with Belarus over coronavirus

The Russian PM noted that the coronavirus was brought in Russia by people, who had come from other countries

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Russia’s authorities have decided to shut the border with Belarus for the movement of people amid the coronavirus pandemic, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday.

"We have also decided to close the border with Belarus for the movement of people and we have made a range of other preventive steps," Mishustin said. "We will continue making every effort to protect our country from this new threat, we will be proactive and will take exhaustive measures in order to first of all prevent a mass spread of the coronavirus," he said.

Mishustin noted that the coronavirus was brought in Russia by people, who had come from other countries, where the infection had earlier spread. "The growing number of those ill in Russia, which we have seen over the past days, comes due to people, who are close to them or those with whom they had contacted. In many countries the situation is developing upon an unfavorable scenario," Mishustin said. The coronavirus poses serious risks to people’s life and health as well as to business activity, he stressed.

"Proactive preventive measures, which we made back in February this year, allowed us to seriously limit the coronavirus spread in Russia," the prime minister said. "We should do our utmost so that the situation does not develop like in other countries." "We have been gradually closing our borders depending on the pandemic spread. First of all, we have done this with China and other Asian countries, which were the first to face this threat," he said.

Earlier, Russia suspended air flights with the European Union countries and also banned foreign citizens’ entry through the border with Poland, Norway and canceled railway service with Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine.

"All these restrictions are deliberately introduced to prevent harsher measures in the future," the prime minister explained.

Minsk has announced it was considering Moscow’s decision and would comment on it later. Belarus has earlier reported 27 coronavirus cases, and three patients have recovered. The last border in western Russia that remains open now is with Finland, although air travel with the country has been limited.

The reserve funds to support Russia’s economy and citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic reach 300 bln rubles ($4 bln). The volume of state guarantees for businesses will be increased.

The Russian prime minister has asked major corporations to use all their resources to combat the coronavirus spread and take steps to ensure stable work of enterprises and protect their staff. The government will launch an online alert system about the coronavirus situation for Russians, including through social networks.