March 5, 2020 / 7:27 PM / 25 days ago

Moscow imposes 'high alert regime' to stem coronavirus outbreak

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow authorities announced a “high alert regime” and imposed extra measures on Thursday to prevent a spread of the coronavirus in the Russian capital.

FILE PHOTO: Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attends a military parade on Red Square in central Moscow, Russia November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

A document posted on the Moscow mayor’s website said that Russians who return from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and other states who display possible “unfavorable” signs of coronavirus should self-isolate themselves at home for 14 days.

This will mean not going to work or to studies, it said.

Moscow, a city of more than 12 million people, will also step up checks of those arriving from countries with coronavirus contagion, and its emergency center dealing with the issue will now work around the clock.

Russia has not reported any confirmed cases of people contracting coronavirus on its territory, although six people who picked up the virus elsewhere have received or are receiving treatment.

Authorities are now trying to prevent any spread of the virus by cancelling some international flights and recommending people against traveling abroad.

On Thursday, Russia canceled its flagship annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum, usually chaired by President Vladimir Putin and scheduled for early June, as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his blog that Moscow could hardly avoid the coronavirus completely and could not readily limit business activity including services sector companies and retailers.

“Millions of people work there. It would have a harmful impact on the economy and on citizens’ prosperity (to shut them down),” Sobyanin said.

Global alarm over the coronavirus’s rapid spread has sent the rouble tumbling because of a steep drop in oil prices. But senior officials have played down the possibility of a major impact on the Russian economy.

Russia is fiscally prepared to cope with a drop in oil prices, its finance minister said on Thursday, as OPEC tries to convince Moscow to support the market with a deeper output cut in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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