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Moscow Bus Drivers Told To Report Suspected Chinese Passengers, Amid Coronavirus Fears


Moscow public transport drivers who suspect they have a Chinese passenger are supposed to contact a police dispatcher. (file photo)

MOSCOW -- A public transport worker in Moscow has told RFE/RL that all drivers of buses, trams, and trolley buses in the Russian capital have been instructed to stop their vehicles and make all passengers disembark if they suspect any of their passengers are from China.

The public transport driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL on February 20 that the measure was aimed at stopping the possible spread of the coronavirus from China.

He said Moscow public transport drivers who suspect they have a Chinese passenger are supposed to contact a police dispatcher and wait for the arrival of authorities before continuing with their routes.

The revelations about the policy emerged a day after Russian media and social-network users reported that the Moscow City Transportation Agency, Mosgortrans, had instructed its drivers to report suspected Chinese nationals among their passengers.

There was no immediate comment about the reports from Mosgortrans officials.

On February 18, Russian authorities announced that Chinese citizens would be temporarily blocked from entering Russia beginning on February 20 in an attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The decision wasn't political and was made solely for safety reasons, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on February 20.

"I would like to note that all actions taken by Russia to avoid the spread of this epidemic, including international efforts, are not politicized, they are not made with any political gain," she said. "This is solely an issue of safety, medicine, and expert evaluations of the situation and the steps needed to be taken."

More than 74,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in China and hundreds more in nearly 30 other countries.

According to information released by Beijing on February 19, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 2,118.

With reporting by Podyom