Health and Science

Russia may deport any foreigners found with coronavirus, prime minister says

Key Points
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin also said Russia has "all the necessary medications, protective means to counter the coronavirus spread."
  • His comments about possible deportation were reported by Tass and cited by Western news agencies.
  • Tass subsequently dropped a mention of possible deportations.
A Chinese citizen undergoing testing for coronavirus while passing through a temporary corridor opened at a border checkpoint between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe. Temporary corridors are opened to return Russian and Chinese citizens to their countries as the Russian government orders to close the border with China as a measure to prevent the coronavirus spread. All the people passing through the temporary corridor are tested for the virus.
Svetlana Mayorova

Foreigners could be deported from Russia if they test positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister said Monday, according to country's media outlets.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said a national plan to prevent the spread of the infection in Russia has been signed.

"It will allow us to deport foreigners if they are diagnosed with this disease and introduce special restrictions, including isolation and quarantine," the prime minister said in comments reported by the Tass news agency and Interfax.

Mishustin added that Russia has "all the necessary medications, protective means to counter the coronavirus spread."

His comments about possible deportation were also reported by The Associated Press and Reuters. Tass later dropped any mention of possible deportations. In a subsequent report, Tass said that Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova's office announced that all foreigners diagnosed with coronavirus in Russia will undergo mandatory treatment until they are cured and then can decide whether to stay in the country or leave.

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On Sunday, Mishustin signed a decree that put the virus, known formally as the "novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV," in the list of diseases posing a threat to citizens, Tass reported. It said that until recently the list, compiled in 2004, included "15 diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, Siberian plague, cholera and plague."

Russia reportedly plans to start evacuating its citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated, on Monday. More than 600 Russians are in the Chinese city, according to a Reuters report citing Russia's deputy prime minister.

Russia reported its first two coronavirus cases on Friday, two Chinese citizens that it said have been isolated. The country also closed most of its entry points along its border with China last week and has temporarily suspended issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals. The prime minister announced Monday that the government will postpone its Sochi Economic Forum, due to be held later in February, as a precaution.

The coronavirus continues to spread. China's National Health Commission has reported an additional 57 deaths and 2,829 new confirmed cases as of the end of Sunday. That brings the country's total to 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases.

China's foreign ministry said Monday that some countries, especially the U.S., have overreacted to the outbreak, according to Reuters. Last week, President Donald Trump signed an order for the U.S. to deny entry to any foreign nationals who have traveled in China within the past two weeks.

—CNBC's Weizhen Tan, Evelyn Cheng and Christine Wang contributed reporting to this story.