No Cases of Mysterious Pneumonia Found in Russia - 19 March, 2003 - News

No cases of the new, highly dangerous 'Hong Kong' virus have been recorded in Russia, according to Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief medical officer. Onishchenko told journalists that the new illness should be called pneumonia with acute respiratory syndrome. He said that there had been attempts to classify the virus as a type of 'bird flu', but there was no evidence to support this identification.

The country's chief doctor declared that there was no reason to panic. However, he said that a vaccine against the virus has not been created yet. According to Onishchenko, all health agencies in Russia have been advised to 'keep a close eye on people who have returned from South-East Asia over the last two weeks.' Cabin crew on Russian airlines have been instructed to inform health agencies as soon as possible is they detect symptoms of the disease in any passengers. Onishchenko stressed that 'of course, there is no question' of preventing these people from returning to Russia.