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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Case of SARS Confirmed

A 25-year-old patient hospitalized in Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese border was formally diagnosed with SARS on Wednesday, becoming Russia's first official case.

"On the basis of medical analysis, this morning we received information confirming the first SARS case on Russian territory," a spokeswoman for Russia's top epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko, said by telephone.

The patient, Denis Soinikov, had stayed in a Blagoveshchensk hotel often used by shuttle traders and tourists from China, where severe acute respiratory syndrome originated.

"The diagnosis is indisputable, it is SARS," Onishchenko told Interfax. "This is our final answer."

Soinikov was initially diagnosed with SARS earlier this month, only to have health officials rescind the diagnosis and say they were still uncertain. Onishchenko said a sample of the patient's blood serum provided the final confirmation that he has the disease.

Russia had been bracing for its first SARS case for weeks. The country shares a 3,645-kilometer border with China and a 3,485-kilometer border with Mongolia, which has also reported a number of cases. Russia has closed checkpoints on parts of the border with China and Mongolia until June 4.

The SARS announcement came as visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao promised that his country could contain the disease. Hu told students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations that China has taken strict measures to stop the spread of the virus and could maintain rapid economic growth despite warnings that SARS could knock up to 2 percentage points off GDP growth.

"We can definitely overcome these temporary difficulties and win the war against SARS while maintaining the pace of economic development and continuing to contribute to the promotion of regional and global economic growth," Hu said.

Hu met with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and discussed ways to stop SARS spreading to Russia. It has killed more than 740 and infected more than 8,000 around the world.

(Reuters, AP)