Russia steps up airport screening of Chinese travelers over coronavirus fears

MOSCOW — Russian airports have stepped up screening of travelers arriving from China to try to identify people infected with the new coronavirus, airport officials said on Tuesday.

The World Health Organisation has said that the coronavirus outbreak, which the mayor of the Chinese city of Wuhan says has killed six people, was likely to spread.

In Russia, at least four airports – Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo in Moscow, as well as airports in Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk – have introduced screening measures to try to identify infected passengers, Russian airport officials said.

Russia’s consumer health regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, said it could not rule out the possibility that the infection could spread to Russia, but evaluated the risk of a widespread outbreak in Russia as low, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

It said a testing system to diagnose the new coronavirus had already been developed in Russia and that laboratories would start receiving it by the end of the week, Interfax reported. Regional authorities have also been briefed on measures they need to take to reduce the risks of an epidemic.

More than 1.5 million Chinese citizens visit Russia each year, the regulator was cited as saying. (Reporting by Reuters television and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Giles Elgood)