Russia will close its borders beginning March 30 in a bid to curb the spread of the CCP virus.
The measure affects all vehicle, rail, and pedestrian checkpoints, and applies to Russia’s maritime borders.
Freight truck drivers, river vessel operators, diplomats, and certain others are exempt from the closure.
The country had already grounded all international flights days earlier.
Russia reported a total 1,534 COVID-19 cases on March 29, a record one-day rise. The death toll in the country doubled to eight in 24 hours as the disease has spread to every region of the country, although the vast majority of cases are concentrated in Moscow.
More than 182,000 people in Russia are under medical supervision and are suspected of being infected with the CCP virus, according to the nation’s sanitary watchdog. The country has tested more than 273,000 people as of March 28, state news agency TASS reported, citing the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.
Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Russians to stay home for one week, but stopped short of ordering a formal lockdown.
The head of Russia’s Orthodox Church on March 29 asked believers to stay home and away from churches. Patriarch Kirill urged people to adhere strictly to authorities’ instructions “before someone dies in our families,” according to Russian news agency RIA. Orthodox services went ahead, including one led by the patriarch.
In Moscow, which has more than 1,000 cases, the city’s mayor ordered the closing of all bars, restaurants, and shops. Cars with mounted loudspeakers drove around the city center and blared pre-recorded warnings about social distancing and the temporary closure of parks, according to Interfax. The city’s municipal service center sent out mass text message alerts asking the residents to stay home until April 5.
Similar measures are in place in other regions. In the Karelia region in the northwest, the governor halted all public transport until April 4. In the city of Ivanovo, police are questioning locals who walk on the streets about their destination. In the Northern Caucasus republic of Chechnya, the local airport only permits incoming passengers from Russia who have permits to live in the region.
At least four Russian federal government officials in Moscow are allegedly infected by the CCP virus, unnamed sources told BBC Russia. The independent Dozhd television channel also reported on a suspected case of an official who became infected.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Russia’s comparatively low number of cases given its size and shared border with China has raised questions and doubts about the veracity of official statistics. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin told Putin on March 24 that the low number could reflect insufficient screening rather than the actual scale of the outbreak and said the situation was “serious.”
Kremlin critics have accused the authorities of manipulating coronavirus statistics to ram the constitutional vote through at any cost—allegations the government has rejected.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.