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Russia adopts measures to prevent spread of SARS

MOSCOW, May 6 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia has the necessary technology and equipment to diagnose severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin said.

The Russian industry has many good developments, ideas and the necessary new equipment," he stated, adding that "as for the threat of the SARS virus getting into the country, we fully possess the technology capable of telling 'atypical pneumonia' from the flu or the cold."

The Moscow-based research centers have already been provided with the necessary equipment to detect SARS cases, Chief Sanitary Doctor Gennady Onishchenko said in an interview with Itar-Tass.

Doctors will need one day to specify the diagnosis of a Russian citizen taken to hospital in Blagoveshchensk last Sunday on suspicion of having atypical pneumonia, the chief state sanitary doctor, Onishchenko said.

Russian epidemiologists have recommended to step up anti-epidemic measures at Russian ships docking at ports of South-East Asia, the chief medic at the Far Eastern epidemiological service told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

Ship crews have received recommendations to refrain from going ashore as well as bar foreign citizens from their ships.

There have been no confirmed cases of atypical pneumonia in Russia's Far East. One person with suspected SARS is undergoing treatment for pneumonia in a clinic for infectious diseases in Blagoveshchensk. The results of his blood tests will be known on Wednesday or Thursday.

The chief sanitary doctor of the Kamchatka region, Nataliya Zaraichenkova, has denied reports that a hotel in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was put in quarantine after one of its guests had been hospitalized with suspected SARS. She emphasized that no cases of that dangerous disease have been registered in the region either among Russian nationals or among foreign tourists.

Hospitals of the Tuva region bordering on Mongolia are ready to fight against atypical pneumonia in case it is revealed in the region, Itar-Tass reported from Kyzyl. The local government has allocated 440,000 roubles for a purchase of medicines that would prevent the spread of SARS. Three sanitary check points have been set up on the Tuva section of the Russian-Mongolian border, the chief sanitary doctor of Tuva, Lyubov Oorzhak, told Tass. Medics of Yoshkar-Ola are also ready to fight against the disease. Priority attention is paid to people returning from the countries affected by SARS. In case of suspected SARS they will be hospitalized and placed in special wards for medical treatment.

Members of the Federation Council upper house of Russian parliament show interest in getting information about the situation in Russia with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, and the Council of the houses decided on Tuesday to invite Russia's chief sanitary inspector to the next Council meeting on May 13, speaker of the house Sergei Mironov told reporters.

Moscow and St. Petersburg have already received the diagnostic equipment necessary to identify atypical pneumonia. Such diagnostic complexes are being created for other regions of Russia, too. This measure will help identify the disease locally, without sending blood samples to be tested to Moscow.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has promised to equip all of Moscow's airports and railway stations in the near future with infrared sensors capable of spotting passers-by running a temperature at a distance of several dozen meters.

Russian authorities are imposing restrictions on the crossing of state borders with China and Mongolia, a source at the State Service for Sanitary and Epidemiological Control said.

A resolution signed by the Chief Sanitary Doctor, Gennady Onishchenko says trips by Russian nationals to those two countries as well as the entry of their nationals into Russia will be limited.

Onishchenko sent the resolution to the administrations of Russia's constituent territories bordering China and/or Mongolia - the Republic of Tyva, the Republic of Buryatia, the Mountainous Altai Republic, the Altai territory, the Maritime territory, the Khabarovsk territory, the Chita region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the insular Sakhalin region that has close contacts with China.

The measure is essential in the wake of spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), also known as atypical or mystery pneumonia, the source said.

Restrictions on entry into and exist from Russia have mostly affected the regions that have close economic and cultural ties with China and Mongolia, and local agencies of power have been asked to assist in controlling the travel limitation, the source indicated.

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