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Russia reports 1st suspected coronavirus case

Russia has reported its first suspected coronavirus case as a citizen who returned from China was hospitalized on Thursday. Officials said the man recently traveled to China’s Hainan Island and was admitted for treatment in the city of Tula, around 200 kilometers south of Moscow. The patient was placed under observation at an infectious diseases ward on Wednesday, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being said in a statement.

Health officials carried out sanitation and epidemic prevention measures at the patient's place of residence, it said.

In a separate statement, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced that Russia has closed its border with China to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. 

She said railway service will also be limited from Thursday midnight and trains will only operate between Moscow and Beijing. 

A decision on air traffic will be taken by Friday, Golikova added.

"We should implement a regime that would allow the return of Russians with appropriate quarantine measures and the possibility of Chinese citizens leaving Russia," she said.

Russia’s measures come as the death toll in China has climbed to 170, with 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV. 

Earlier on Thursday, China’s National Health Commission said 38 people died in the country over the past 24 hours and a total of 12,167 people were suspected of being infected. 

Since the outbreak late last year, China has put Wuhan city – where the virus originated – under lockdown. 

However, the virus has spread beyond China’s borders, and cases have been reported in Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Malaysia, Australia, and Vietnam.

Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports, worldwide and several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee will also reconvene on Thursday to assess the situation. 

The committee is expected to decide whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and present recommendations to manage its spread.

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