first case of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was
confirmed over the weekend in Russia, civil aviation authorities
reportedly refused to allow passengers on board a China Northern
Airlines flight to deplane at the airport in the far-eastern city
of Khabarovsk. Instead, the aircraft was ordered to leave the gate
and return to China Sunday. It went back to its point of origin,
the Chinese city of Kharbin, without further incident.
At least 24 other SARS cases are suspected in Russia and the
nation has instituted emergency procedures to keep the deadly virus
from spreading. The RIA-Novosti news agency reports Russian Civil
Aviation authorities have warned airlines that fly to and from
China to stop selling tickets to passengers, and to stop all mail
and cargo deliveries between the two countries until Chinese health
officials can control the epidemic. So far, more than 500 people
worldwide have died from SARS.