On Friday, March 27, Russian officials confirmed 196 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases over a 24-hour period bringing the total number to 1036 nationwide. This represents the highest increase recorded in a single day since the beginning of the outbreak in the country. A fourth associated death was also announced.
On Thursday, March 26, Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that most shops including restaurants, cafés, and bars will be closed except for essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Restaurants may offer takeout service. Public events have also been prohibited, and free public transport for individuals over 65 suspended. The restrictions will be in effect from Saturday, March 28, to Sunday, April 5.
On Wednesday, March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin previously announced a series of measures to contain the virus. A week-long paid national holiday has been declared between March 28 and April 5, during which all non-essential work will be suspended. Hospitals, emergency services, medical services, banks, pharmacies, and stores will remain open. All restaurants and cafes will also be closed with the exception of delivery services. Putin also announced debt relief for impacted individuals and the automatic extension of social welfare payments for six months. The government also announced that all flights except for repatriation flights will be suspended nationwide starting Friday, March 27.
Other containment efforts remain in place as of March 27. All nightclubs, cinemas, and children's play areas have been closed. Most foreign nationals are prohibited from entering the country until Friday, May 1, and all individuals arriving in Russia from abroad are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Russian Railways and its subsidiary, Federal Passenger Company, are reducing or suspending domestic services between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Kazan, Irkutsk and Zabaikalsk, and Belgorod and Moscow through late May.
Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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