After China, Europe. The largest country in the world by size announced on Monday March 16 the closure of its land border with its neighbor and close ally, Belarus, as well as with Norway and Poland, which it adjoins by the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. These measures are in addition to those already taken against Chinese and Iranian nationals, as well as the quarantine of all travelers from France, Italy or South Korea who arrive in Moscow.
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Russia seems to be spared the epidemic so far, according to official data. The country recorded Monday March 16 only 93 cases including two thirds in Moscow. All returned from Asia, Italy, France or Spain and no one died of the disease.
The authorities attribute the small number of patients to the gradual closing of the borders, in particular the 4,200 km with China, decided on February 20. “We have to do everything so that the situation does not develop according to the same scenario as in other countries, said Prime Minister Mikhaïl Michoustine. The restrictions implemented aim to avoid having to take more drastic ones in the future “.
Authorities in Moscow have started taking containment measures, in addition to the requirement to stay at home for 14 days for residents returning from several European countries. The city announced the closure from March 21 of all schools and will drastically limit from Tuesday March 17 all public leisure activity.
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Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also called on the elderly and those most at risk not to “Leave their apartments unless necessary”. In most companies, employees continue to work in the office.
In Russia as elsewhere, the inhabitants oscillate between worry and indifference. A sign of nervousness, protective masks have nevertheless become untraceable. Many Russians also have doubts about the real state of the epidemic and the tests carried out in a country where private clinics are more readily used than public medicine.
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According to several accounts, residents of Moscow under quarantine regretted not having been tested while coughing or feeling feverish. Others say that doctors refuse to travel when they call them. Authorities say they have carried out 104,000 tests since the start of the epidemic.