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Kremlin starts temperature checks at Putin events over virus fears

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Moscow (AFP)

The Kremlin said Thursday it has begun checking the body temperature of officials and reporters attending events involving President Vladimir Putin due to coronavirus fears.

"This is a precautionary measure," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti after journalists underwent checks at the Kremlin on Thursday afternoon.

Peskov said that all participants of meetings involving the 67-year-old Russian leader would be checked.

"There is a new screening procedure in the Kremlin now -- someone holding a thermal camera to take your temperature," Anton Zhelnov, a journalist with the independent channel TV Rain, said on Facebook.

All the Kremlin pool journalists had their temperature taken before the start of a meeting of the State Council, an official advisory body, on Thursday, RIA Novosti said, with everyone cleared to go through.

Officials confirmed that the measure had been introduced to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus in Russia, the state news agency added.

Russia, which shares a 4,000-kilometre (2,485-mile) border with China, has two confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Both patients are Chinese citizens and are being treated in hospitals in Siberia.

Russia has closed its land border with China and introduced a number of other measures to halt the spread of the virus.

The latest Kremlin precaution is perhaps not unexpected since the Russian strongman appears to be exceptionally conscious of risks to his health.

Last year Putin brought his own mug to an official dinner at the G20 summit in Japan, prompting jokes on social media that the longtime leader suffers from paranoia.

Video footage of the dinner showed the Russian leader, who has been in power for almost 20 years, drinking from a white thermos mug while other leaders drank from regular wine glasses.

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