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Russia’s consumer watchdog screens passengers on all international flights for coronavirus

Since December 31 last year specialists have screened more than 3 million passengers

MOSCOW, February 29. /TASS/. All the passengers of international flights arriving in Russia are undergoing screening for novel coronavirus, Head of Russia’s consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova said on Saturday.

"We started to screen passengers through thermal imaging control from December 31 last year, from the time when the Chinese side announced about arising risks. Over this period, we have screened more than 3 million passengers. Of this number, no more than 15% were Chinese citizens while the rest were citizens of various countries because we are screening all international flights and continue doing it today," she said.

Russia was among the first countries to take prompt measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus. For example, it has created special conditions at Terminal F of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport for screening passengers, carrying out examinations and issuing warnings about the need for quarantining persons, if necessary, the Rospotrebnadzor head said.

"Therefore, Terminal F is becoming the country’s special gates today," she noted.

The passengers arriving from the countries, the air service with which has been restricted over the coronavirus "will exit through Terminal F where everything has been prepared and organized to lower the risks when passengers cross the border from the infection-affected countries," she said.

Russia imposed a temporary ban from February 28 on regular and charter flights to Iran and back and only the Russian flagship airline Aeroflot and the Iranian Mahan Air continue flights. Russia earlier restricted the air communication with China (except for flights by Aeroflot and several Chinese airlines). Russia also plans to restrict the air communication with South Korea from March 1 (except for flights by Aeroflot and Korean Air). All the flights will be conducted through the isolated Terminal F at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

On December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities reported to the World Health Organization about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, an economic and industrial megalopolis with a population of 11 million.

The virus was identified on January 7 as 2019-nCoV. As of today, 60 countries and territories, including Russia, have reported confirmed coronavirus cases.

The World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, characterizing it as an epidemic with multiple locations. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated on February 11 that the organization gave the novel coronavirus an official name of COVID-19.

According to the latest reports, over 85,200 cases of patients infected with the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in China and other countries. The virus’ death toll has hit 2,924, yet more than 39,510 patients have recovered from the disease.