Wuhan virus: Russia boosts border checks to thwart virus spread

Terminal C at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Jan 17, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia has strengthened checks at border crossings and airports to prevent the spread of a new virus from China, with staff scanning passengers' temperature and isolating people with suspicious symptoms, officials said on Tuesday (Jan 22).

The country's health and sanitation watchdog said it had "taken additional measures to reinforce sanitation and quarantine control in points of passage through the Russian border".

Staff were instructed to isolate people suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, and clinics were ready to receive patients, it said.

Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport told AFP in a statement that additional measures of sanitation control would be used to process flights from China.

Employees use heat scanners to the detect body temperature of passengers arriving from China while they are still boarded.

"In case of elevated temperature, a medical team is immediately called to the plane," Sheremetyevo said.

If a coronavirus infection is suspected, "the passenger is immediately isolated in a special room and hospitalised in a specialised medical facility for an evaluation" according to the protocol. But no cases have so far been detected, it added.

The sanitation watchdog also cautioned Russians against visiting Wuhan in central China where the new virus first emerged. It advised tourists from going to markets with live animals or zoos, to drink only bottled water and to use face masks.

The watchdog said scientists were working on developing a new diagnostic test for the virus using two existing methods that can detect it at early stages.

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Russia shares a border with China and annually hosts 1.5 million Chinese tourists.

The death toll from the Sars-like coronavirus in China rose to six on Tuesday and the number of cases surpassed 300, raising concerns in the middle of a major holiday travel rush.

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