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Moscow shuts shopping centres and parks to curb spread of virus

Russia has ramped up efforts to combat the coronavirus, closing all Moscow's shopping centres, restaurants and larger parks from Saturday for at least a week, in a move the likes of which have not been seen since the end of World War II.

Moscow, 28 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Russia has ramped up efforts to combat the coronavirus, closing all Moscow’s shopping centres, restaurants and larger parks from Saturday for at least a week, in a move the likes of which have not been seen since the end of World War II.

There were fewer people travelling on the underground, by bus or on the streets in the country’s capital and largest city, although the spring-like weather tempted many people out into the fresh air.

Many of those people were failing to maintain a 2-metre distance from one another, Melita Vujnovic, the World Health Organization’s representative to the Russian Federation said in remarks to TASS, the state-run news agency.

“I just travelled through Moscow and what I saw was painful,” Vujnovic said.

Many countries have advised citizens to stay 2 metres away from each other to avoid spreading the highly-infectious virus.

Russia has so far reported relatively few cases of the novel coronavirus. However, the number of infections is rising rapidly and the country registered 1,264 cases on Saturday.

Experts were spraying pavements and streets with disinfectant on Saturday to prevent the virus from spreading.

In a further move, Russians have been asked to stay at home for seven days starting on Monday.

Flights and rail connections abroad have already been suspended, and on Saturday, 600 Russians who were stuck in Ukraine were brought back to Moscow by train.

Officials are now considering temporarily suspending all flights and trains nationwide, state news outlet RIA Novosti reported, citing sources.

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