“In order to reassure everyone: There are about 30 drugs that are available today, and are being used, [which can] work against this virus. Twelve of them are ones we [also use to] treat HIV infection,” Onishchenko, who is now an MP in the national parliament (Duma), told the radio station Echo of Moscow.

However, Alexander Sergeev, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), offered a bleak prediction. He believes a global epidemic is on the cards by March if the coronavirus continues to spread at its current rate.

“The disease is quite dangerous and the number of cases grows exponentially. If it continues for another month, it can grow into a global epidemic,” he told journalists on Monday. In his view, the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to do more.

According to Russian authorities, no cases of the new 2019-nCov virus have been found so far, but they have been reported in Chinese regions bordering the country.

In Transbaikalia, a state of high alert has been introduced, according to the regional administration’s press service. The local government of the region, which is heavily reliant on cross-border trade, has asked residents not to travel to China.

Sanitary and quarantine control procedures at frontier checkpoints have been reinforced, with thermographic cameras in use. As it happens, passenger traffic is currently around 15 times smaller than usual at this time due to Chinese New Year celebrations.

Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in Beijing says there are 140 Russians, including 75 students, in Hubei Province, from where the epidemic apparently began in its capital, Wuhan. It didn’t indicate whether there are any immediate plans to evacuate them.

Last month, an outbreak of pneumonia attributed to the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan. Since then, more cases of infection have been recorded in China and other countries. Wuhan and a number of other cities are now closed and quarantined. Experts believe that the outbreak was caused by wild animals and it’s assumed, but not confirmed, that the virus originated from a market.

So far, more than 80 people have died and in excess of 2,700 have been infected, according to official data. In addition to China, cases have been reported in Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

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