Moscow deploys facial recognition to find coronavirus quarantine breaches

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Though there haven’t been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Russian capital, authorities have partially closed the country’s borders with China and Moscow is using its ubiquitous CCTV camera network to detect people breaching the mandatory quarantine.

At the same time, just like much of the global economy, Russia’s is also struggling with the impact of the outbreak, the Moscow correspondent of Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet reports.

“We are constantly monitoring the worrying situation in China, and in concert with the federal authorities, we are doing everything to prevent the outbreak from reaching Moscow,” Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote in his official blog. “In order to do so, we must take into account the fact that our city is one of the world’s major transit centers.”

Russia halted all private traffic with China last Thursday, only allowing travel for those with transit, service, humanitarian, or business visas.

Anyone returning from China must also enter a mandatory home quarantine for two weeks. According to news agency RBK, so far Russian authorities have instructed some 2,500 people returning from China to stay at home for a two-week period.

The city’s CCTV cameras now use facial recognition systems to weed out anyone who breaches the two-week quarantine upon their return from China.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s registry, the Russian capital had an estimated 170,000 CCTV cameras at the end of last year, but only a few thousand have been connected to the ministry’s face recognition system and a gradual integration of all those cameras began early this year.

Mayor Sobyanin said that by September, all the CCTV cameras of the Russian capital’s extensive underground railways will have been incorporated into the system. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov estimated that the outbreak and associated security measures are hitting the Russian economy to the tune of one billion roubles (€12.4 million).

Russian-Chinese economic ties amount to $110 billion a year (€101 billion) and account for 16.6 percent of Russia’s foreign trade.  

Title image: CCTV cameras at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. 

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