Russia stops all flights to return Russians and foreigners to the country

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As of this night (midnight on Friday against Saturday / Russia, suspends all planes to return Russians and foreigners to Russia, Interfax news agency reported, quoting a source from one of the major airlines. The information on the total shutdown of tomorrow’s international flights has been confirmed by another industry source.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that 25,000 people abroad had asked for help in returning to their country, BTA quoted Reuters as saying.

Domodedovo Moscow Airport has announced that it has already closed its international flights sector due to the shutdown of airline connections abroad, TASS added.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced governor of the remote northern Komi region, after preliminary investigations began there over 50 people at a local hospital were infected with a coronavirus by a single doctor, Reuters reported.

The Russian republic of Komi, 1000 km northeast of Moscow, records 56 patients with Covid-19, which is more than any other area outside Moscow itself, the area around it and St. Petersburg.

Fifty-five of the cases are related to a hospital in the Ezhwa region of the Komi capital, Syktyvkar, according to a local administration. A few hours after the announcement that the investigation had begun, the Kremlin published a presidential decree saying that Putin had accepted the resignation of Komi Republic Governor Sergei Gaplikov and appointed Deputy Minister of Health Vladimir Uiba as interim chief of the district.

Russian media reported that a local surgeon may have been the source of the infection in Syktyvkar, and the Russian Investigative Committee, which deals with serious crimes, has announced that it has undertaken the investigation with preliminary checks on media publications.

A coronavirus outbreak may prove difficult to control in a region with less well-equipped health care than the rest of Western Russia, Reuters notes.

Russia has so far reported 3548 cases of coronavirus, with 80 per cent of them in Moscow, its suburbs and St. Petersburg – the most populated areas of the country with access to better health care than the rest of the country.

The investigation can take up to 30 days, said Svetlana Korovchenko, a spokeswoman for the local inquiry committee.

According to Ernest Mezak, a lawyer for the Human Rights Advocacy Group, “the health care structure in Komi is absolutely unprepared for the epidemic outbreak of Covid-19.” The group is conducting its own investigation into the case.

“Neither officials nor ordinary people considered Covid-19 a serious threat in Syktyvkar just a week ago,” the lawyer said.

Last week, Russia launched a criminal investigation into a high-profile contagious disease specialist in the southern city of Stavropol, who failed to isolate himself after traveling to Spain and reportedly infected several people.

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