jet airliner plane
© Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
As part of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Russian government is shutting down all regular and charter international flights from Friday. The only exception will be for those repatriating its citizens.

No resumption date has been published, so far, and the suspension will not apply to cargo routes.

The cabinet also requested that the Foreign Ministry assist Russian citizens abroad until their return home. Russian embassies around the world will receive additional funds to provide support.

So far, 652 Covid-19 cases have been registered in Russia, with more than half of those infected in Moscow.

The ban on flights is yet another step taken by Russia to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The highly-contagious disease has already killed over 21,000 people around the globe, with more than 470,000 infected. Italy, Spain, Iran, and the US are among the most heavily affected countries, while China, where the virus originated, is seeing positive results in its fight against the disease.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a week-long paid holiday for workers. The president said there is no feasible way to keep the coronavirus out, but vowed that everything will be done to minimize the damage.

Russia had already banned public gatherings of more than 50 people, closed cinemas, fitness clubs, and other establishments. In Moscow, elderly people, for whom the infection is the most dangerous, were urged to remain in their homes.