March 16, 2020 / 2:07 PM / 15 days ago

Russia bans entry to foreign nationals, closes schools

Employees wearing protective face masks clean and disinfect a subway train, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities on Monday banned foreign nationals from entering the country, shut state schools and limited public gatherings in Moscow in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The ban on foreign nationals will be enforced from March 18 until May 1, though diplomats, airplane crew members and some other categories of people will be exempt, the government said.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin prohibited all outdoor events and limited public indoor events to no more than 50 people until April 10, he said in a blog post on his personal website, citing the need to strengthen the city’s quarantine measures.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia rose to 93 on Monday, up from 63 the previous day, but no deaths have yet been reported.

Russia said it would cancel all sporting events from Monday, while Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin ordered all educational and scientific institutions under his department’s jurisdiction to strengthen sanitary and preventative measures against the spread of coronavirus.

In Moscow, Sobyanin said all state schools, sports schools and further education institutions in the city would be closed from March 21 until April 12.

Sobyanin also widened a list of countries from which new arrivals are obliged to spend 14 days in self-isolation to include all European countries and the United States.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier on Monday introduced a raft of measures aimed at limiting damage to the economy, including an anti-crisis fund of 300 billion roubles ($4 billion).

Russia and Armenia agreed to restrict passenger traffic between the two countries, while Mishustin also said Russia would stop the movement of people across its border with Belarus.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Alexander Marrow, editing by Maria Kiselyova, William Maclean

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