Russian woman escapes coronavirus quarantine by short-circuiting the lock

The patient fled from the Botkin Hospital after returning to St. Petersburg from China.

(CNN) -- A Russian woman who escaped a hospital ward where she was under quarantine for novel coronavirus is facing a lawsuit filed by heath authorities for endangering the public, according to Russian state media.

The woman had returned from China in early February and was undergoing observation at the Botkin Hospital for Infectious Diseases in St. Petersburg, according to state news agency TASS.

She fled the hospital without permission by short-circuiting the electronic lock on the door to her ward, St. Petersburg's chief sanitary physician said in a statement Thursday.

The woman is now facing a lawsuit filed by St. Petersburg's chief sanitary physician with the Kuibyshevsky District Court for committing an administrative offense by breaking quarantine regulations and potentially exposing other people to the virus.

Nearly 230 Russian citizens are currently waiting to return from China, according to Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency.

Two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, according to the country's consumer watchdog, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being. The two patients were Chinese nationals who traveled to Russia; one of them has recovered and left the hospital, TASS said.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had established a task force to combat the spread of coronavirus, named by the World Health Organization as Covid-19. "The Russian embassy and the consulate general in China are closely monitoring the situation and staying in touch with Russian citizens that are in China's districts where the disease has spread," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

While the majority of the coronavirus cases have been confirmed in mainland China, the virus has spread to more than two dozen countries worldwide, accounting for more than 65,000 cases globally. Nearly 1,400 people have so far died from the virus, all but three in mainland China.

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