The Ministry of Health is in control of the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, and Russians should not trust fake news sources when it comes to information about the virus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
"As far as information is concerned, the information [provided] has been objective. Don't believe some kind of fakes...Some are spreading such fakes without thinking, while others are doing so on purpose with the goal of sowing distrust in what what authorities are doing at the municipal, regional and federal levels in order to create a panic," Putin said, speaking to public representatives in Crimea on Wednesday.
According to the president, authorities have provided factual, objective information to the public regarding the virus, and will continue to do so moving forward.
Russia has recorded a total of 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, with five patients making a recovery and no fatalities to date. On Wednesday, the operational headquarters set up to monitor the COVID-19 situation reported 33 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours, with 31 of them in the Moscow area, and one apiece in Tomsk and Novosibirsk in Siberia.
Commenting on measures to battle the virus, Putin said he expected the country's scientists to work diligantly to create new drugs, both for its prevention and for treatment of infected individuals. "We have every chance to ensure that our colleagues will work with a high level of efficiency in this situation. The more quickly, the better," Putin said.
On Tuesday, Putin called on the cabinet to work in a coordinated manner to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. According to the president, timely operational measures already taken have made it possible to prevent the massive penetration and spread of the pandemic in Russia. Putin also instructed the cabinet to ensure that citizens have detailed information regarding the virus, including the danger it poses, what measures the state is taking to combat it and what people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones, but excluding rumours and speculation. Putin asked Russians to treat the precautionary measures taken by the government with a sense of understanding, and called on the public to show solidarity, composure, responsibility and discipline to overcome the virus.
Russia's coronavirus response has included quarantine measures for infected individuals, with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms asked to self-isolate if possible. The country has also shut down its borders with most of its neighbours, instituted tough screening measures at airports and train stations, and temporarily enforced a ban on air travel to and from the Schengen area. Public gatherings including sports events, forums and business meetings have also been restricted as a proactive measure. The state has also asked businesses to ramp up production of coronavirus-related medical equipment, including test kits.