Russia repatriates citizens stranded in Africa amid COVID-19 travel disruptions

FILE PHOTO: Specialists wearing protective gear spray disinfectant while sanitizing Platov International Airport amid COVID-19 outbreak near Rostov-on-Don, Russia April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo

Russia has repatriated its citizens stranded in various African countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said at a media briefing that Moscow had repatriated its citizens from Tanzania, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroun, Uganda, Kenya, in a period of four days.

Other than Africa, Russians stranded in Jordan were also repatriated in the evacuation flight.

“The flight that is now known as Afrikanskoye Koltso (African Ring) has become a symbolic achievement of those who have been working around the clock for the past four months to bring our compatriots back home, whatever the circumstances,” said Zakharova.

Many countries around the world have been forced to conduct similar flight to help their citizens return home amid the global health crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted international travel as many countries shut their borders in efforts to curb further spread of the disease. Many airlines have since grounded their planes as destinations remain unavailable.

The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said the country has repatriated more than 60,000 citizens stranded abroad.

“As of today, we have repatriated more than 61,000 since we first used the evacuation algorithm in early April. Of these, over 49,000 returned home on Russian air carrier flights and over 11,000 were evacuated by special flights organised by foreign airlines,” said Zakharova.

Rusi is one of the worst affected countries by the COVID-19 pandemic, having reported 799,499 infections and 13,026 deaths as of Friday afternoon.

Globally, more than 15.5 million people have tested positive for the virus, with a death toll of over 633,000.