MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The International Space Station (ISS) crew that is expected to land in Kazakhstan on 17 April could be sent into quarantine for 14 days as part of relevant epidemiological measures amid the ongoing pandemic, according to Sergei Savin, chief epidemiologist at the Gagarin Research and Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC).
The ISS crew currently comprises Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, and US astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir. On 9 April, Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, and US astronaut Christopher Cassidy are expected to replace them.
"Russian and Kazakh authorities have decided to place all arrivals from abroad into a 14-day isolation. This requirement will certainly apply to Oleg Skripochka after his return from the ISS. This means that the entire traditional program for post-flight rehabilitation is currently in question", Savin said.
According to Savin, in the light of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of borders between states, it is still unclear to specialists whether the Russian cosmonaut will be able to go on vacation abroad or stay in Russia after returning from the ISS.
All personnel that will be engaged in ensuring the landing of the ISS crew have undergone medical checking and tests for coronavirus, the chief epidemiologist of the cosmonaut training center noted.
"Before leaving for the place of [ISS crew] landing in Kazakhstan, the entire personnel of the operational-tactical group always undergoes a medical examination. They have all undergone a medical examination and coronavirus testing", Savin said.
The same personnel are on duty during the launch of new missions to the ISS.
According to Savin, after returning to Earth, the ISS crew should be treated with more caution, since the astronauts' immunity is weakened.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 780,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, and over 37,800 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.