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15 May 202009:28

Extract from the briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, May 14, 2020

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Coronavirus update and helping Russians return home


Last week the overall situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in the world remained tense despite encouraging trends to hold down the spread of the infection in several countries, in particular, the slowing death rate and the growing number of recoveries. The number of cases has continued to increase at a relatively high rate. Unfortunately, this means that the number of those infected all around the world now exceeds four million. The US still is the most hard-hit country.

Some European countries continue to gradually lift public health restrictions given that the spread of this dangerous disease is slowing. We are closely monitoring national approaches to the phased lifting of these restrictions. We proceed from the premise that every country is developing its own strategy based on epidemiological developments and the effectiveness of the measures taken to contain the pandemic. We share the view of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that steps taken to end quarantines must be balanced against existing risks. This is necessary to prevent a second wave of the pandemic above all.

In these conditions, Russia continues to take measures to bring home Russians who want to return from foreign countries. The schedule of flights takes into consideration current public health conditions in Russia as well as its logistical and transport capabilities. Priority is given based on the availability of places for arriving people to self-isolate in their regions of permanent residence, and, of course, on whether a system of observation is in place. According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, over the last week 1,288 Russians returned home from various countries. Let me stress that this is for the last week only. In total, 15,935 people have been brought home since the first half of April.

We continue to schedule return flights, including some long-awaited routes. The approved schedule includes Valletta, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Sofia, Bucharest, Vienna, Budapest and Malaga. New flights will be made to Larnaca, Bangkok and Dushanbe.

Briefly on upcoming plans. Yesterday night a Royal Flight plane left Moscow to return Russians from Mauritius and Zanzibar as well as a group from South Africa. Unfortunately, there was insufficient capacity to bring back everyone from South Africa at once, but work is underway to organise an additional flight there.

Moreover, a plane has already left for New York to return Russians. We expect over 300 compatriots, including the minors who were staying in the US as part of exchange programmes that caused such a stir, to return to Russia aboard this plane.

Today people will return from Goa, too. The plane is flying to Moscow with a stop in Rostov-on-Don to drop people off in the Southern Federal District. Right after this, another plane from this popular Indian state will fly to Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg and then Moscow to return people to the Siberian and Ural federal districts.

Today we also expect another flight from Spain: from two large tourist centres in Tenerife and Barcelona.

This work will continue. In fact, it has not stopped even for an hour.

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