Russia may deport foreigners with coronavirus, premier says

Andrey Biryukov and Stepan Kravchenko

Russia may deport foreign citizens who are infected with the deadly new strain of coronavirus as part of a national plan against the outbreak signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

The government will also postpone the flagship Sochi Economic Forum due to be held Feb. 12-14 as a precaution, Mishustin said at a televised meeting with his deputies on Monday. Russia is taking “all necessary measures” to prevent the spread of the virus, and has sufficient medicines, he said.

Foreigners traveling from China to Russia will be permitted to enter the country only at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport as of midnight, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told reporters at a briefing later Monday. Still, there’s no reason yet to declare an emergency over coronavirus, she said.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin gestures while speaking during a cabinet meeting in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.

Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Friday after two Chinese nationals were diagnosed in Siberia. It has canceled nearly 200 flights to China and also mostly closed the land border with its giant neighbor for passenger traffic.

Both patients are in a satisfactory condition and remain in isolation, public health chief Anna Popova said at the same briefing. More than 4,000 people who may have come into contact with others suspected of being exposed to coronavirus in China are being kept under observation, she said.

Infection Control

Infection control measures are being tightened at Sheremetyevo’s Terminal F, which is handling passengers on China flights, according to Popova.

The restriction on entry from China for foreigners won’t apply to citizens of the four other Eurasian Union member states – Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – or to those foreigners with permanent residence in Russia, Golikova said.

A temporary ban on imports of rare plants and animals from China is being imposed as part of precautions against the virus, Golikova said.

Russia’s second-largest retailer, Magnit, said in a statement that it’s suspending fruit and vegetable shipments from China because of the coronavirus threat and complications in logistics. Chinese tomatoes, peppers, tangerines, grapes and pomelo accounted for about 3% of Magnit’s fruit and vegetable sales last year.

The country’s biggest food retailer, X5, said in an email that it’s looking at alternative suppliers to replace Chinese goods, though they account for “significantly less” than 1% of the company’s direct imports.

With assistance from Ilya Khrennikov.