Illustration photo: Atle Staalesen

Border towns cut off from Mother Russia as number of virus cases spikes

People are now barred from both entering and exiting the district of Pechenga.
April 23, 2020

More than 35 thousand people are isolated from the rest of world after regional authorities on Wednesday decided to introduce a full travel ban both to and from the municipality located in Murmansk region along the border to Norway and Finland.

The new regulation takes effect at 12 am on the 23rd April, the authorities say.

People with residency in the area are still allowed to entry, but exits can only be made with special permission from the local municipal administration. Exceptions can be made for health personnel and representatives of emergency services, as well as for people with key work responsibilities. They will all be subject to body temperature checks at control checkpoints.

The ban comes as there is a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. Figures from local health authorities say that a total of 14 Pechenga locals are now officially registered with the virus, a doubling in one week.

The first five cases in the Pechenga district were confirmed by regional Mayor Eduard Zatona on the 13th April. Those individuals were all transported to regional capital Murmansk for treatment, Zatona said on social media.

Regional authorities in Murmansk on the 17 April introduced a ban on entry to the Pechenga area as well as several more towns in the Kola Peninsula, and locals then hoped the virus would be kept under control.

Murmansk Oblast are now among the Russian regions worst hit by the coronavirus. By Wednesday 22nd April a total of 606 people were officially registered as infected, the fifth highest number in the country. The lion’s share of the cases are connected with Novatek’s major construction site in Belokamenka.

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