Russia may deport foreigners with coronavirus, premier says

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin speaks during a meeting with his deputies in Moscow on Feb 3, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Russia plans to expel foreigners who test positive for the fast-spreading new coronavirus, Interfax news agency reported on Monday (Feb 3), as nations worldwide try to curb an outbreak that has killed 361 people in China since it emerged in December.

Russia, which has a 4,300km border with China, reported two cases of the virus last week, in the Siberian region of Tyumen and the far eastern Zabaykalsky region, both involving Chinese nationals.

Russia's military will start flying back Russian citizens from China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus, on Monday, taking 130 people back, out of a total more than 600, officials have said.

Separately, Russia moved 58 of its citizens back from China's border regions as of last Saturday, the regional Primorsk government said on its Instagram account over the weekend.

The Primorsk region also opened special isolation zones on Sunday for Chinese arriving in Russia, where they will be held for 14 days irrespective of whether they have tested positive for the virus.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases in the region, the government said.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishushin said on Monday that Russia plans to expel foreigners who test positive for the virus, Interfax reported.

Mr Mishushin also proposed to move dates for the Russian annual economic forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, initially set for Feb 12-14, to a later date.

Moscow has already restricted direct flights to China, with planes arriving at a special terminal at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and all passengers being checked. Russian Railways has also suspended passenger trains to the country.

Russia has cancelled nearly 200 flights to China and mostly closed its land border for passenger traffic.

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