Moscow rolls out biometric facial recognition to monitor coronavirus infections

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Fearing a rapid spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Moscow authorities have decided to roll out biometric facial identification technology as part of a surveillance program to prevent individuals that might be at risk of infection from going outside of their homes or hotels, Reuters writes.

Russians retuning from trips to China were allowed to enter the country, but were asked to not leave their homes for two weeks to minimize risks, the report says. Chinese nationals, however, were not allowed to enter Russia.

According to Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, approximately 2,500 people returning from China were sent into home quarantine and authorities are monitoring the city with “facial recognition systems and other technical measures” to make sure people comply with the decision. Sobyanin said the surveillance measure has already detected a woman who left quarantine, and confirmed raids were performed to identify people that may have been infected.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, claimed not to know details of the initiative but warned the process should not be biased. The comments came following a situation where a woman tried to escape from the hospital, making accusations that she had been involuntarily detained. A court ruled she had to go back into quarantine, following two independent confirmed coronavirus cases.

Live facial recognition was launched to Moscow’s extensive CCTV network last month.

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