Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government will evacuate Russian nationals from China next week, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Due to the fact that it has taken certain time to finalize the coordination of flight information by the Chinese side, the evacuation of Russian nationals from China by planes of the Aerospace Force will be carried out on February 3-4,” Peskov told the state-run TASS news agency. It came after Putin ordered the evacuation of Russian nationals trapped in the hardest-hit areas in China, the agency reported.
Peskov also indicated in state-backed RT that “they will start carrying out [evacuation] flights as of today.”
The move came about a day after Russian health officials confirmed two cases of coronavirus in two Siberian regions. Those new cases involve Chinese nationals, RT reported.
“A corresponding instruction was signed today. Work on it is already in progress. We will inform all those concerned properly about the measures to close the border in the Far Eastern region and other steps the government has taken [to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Russia],” Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
A World Health Organization (WHO) official warned other governments to prepare for “domestic outbreak control” amid the coronavirus epidemic that has prompted a number of countries to suspend travel to China.
Gauden Galea, the WHO representative in Beijing, told The Associated Press that other countries should “get ready for possible importation in order to identify cases as early as possible and in order to be ready for a domestic outbreak control, if that happens.”
Last week, the U.N. organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared a global public health emergency in light of the outbreak.
The declaration “flipped the switch” from being cautious to calling on governments to prepare for the possibility that the coronavirus might spread beyond their borders, Galea said. The majority of cases outside China have been people who have recently traveled to Wuhan, a city that was placed on lockdown and quarantine by Chinese regime officials.
There are eight cases in the United States as of Sunday, including seven who traveled to China and one person-to-person transmission. Those cases are in Massachusetts, California, Arizona, Illinois, and Washington State.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar last week declared a public health emergency and a temporary travel ban.