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Iran Press TV

Putin says coronavirus is 'under control' in Russia

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 12:07 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the coronavirus outbreak in his country is "under control" as the China-generated pathogen continues to take a heavy toll across the world.

"We were able to contain mass penetration and spread of the pandemic," Putin said at a government meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. "The situation is generally under control despite high risk level."

The Russian president made the comments after touring a new coronavirus information center in the capital that had been built to spot empty supermarket shelves with surveillance cameras and to track quarantined citizens during the coronavirus crisis.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, in charge of the country's coronavirus response, said the center had a database of contacts and places of work for 95 per cent of those under compulsory quarantine after returning from virus-stricken countries.

"We have identified where they are," he said. "When the person leaves the building we record it"

"The center... also effectively fights so-called 'fakes' and rumors," Sobyanin said, citing a recent instance when people began to share a false report of 32 deaths from the virus in Russia.

Russia has so far reported 114 confirmed cases of the deadly flu-like pathogen, with no fatalities.

The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year and is currently affecting more than 160 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far infected over 180,000 people and killed more than 7,400 others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday that Europe was now the "epicenter" of the global coronavirus pandemic and was reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of its outbreak.

The European Commission announced plans on Tuesday to enact the full closure of borders across the 27-member European Union (EU) as part of efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that the EU would impose an entry ban on travelers from outside the bloc for 30 days to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the WHO called on all European countries to take the "boldest actions" against the now-global pandemic.

"Europe is the epicenter of the first pandemic of coronavirus and every country, with no exceptions, needs to take their boldest actions to stop or slow the virus spread," Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said during an online news briefing for the media.

"These are unprecedented times," he added. "It is important that countries work together, learn from each other and harmonize the efforts."

Over the past week, individual European countries have fully or partially sealed their borders to non-nationals and implemented extra border checks over the pandemic.

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