Coronavirus vending machines dishing out COVID-19 ‘apocalypse kits’ pictured

Vending machines in Russia have been stocked with so-called coronavirus "survival kits" to prevent panic buying in shops.

The kits are available in machines next to the city hall in Sergiyev Posad, around 44 miles northeast of the capital Moscow.

A representative of the unnamed vending company selling the kits said they started selling them after noticing the products they contain were selling in huge numbers in ships.

The kits contain toilet roll, soap, and a face mask, as well as buckwheat and garlic.

Each one costs 200 rubles (£2.15), far above the pre-outbreak price, sparking anger from many.

A representative for the company insisted they weren't doing any harm or breaking the law by selling the kits.

"Those who sell medical masks at 50 or even 100 times more expensive than the normal price are the ones to be sanctioned for taking advantage of COVID-19, not us."

Face masks are currently selling for around 100 rubles (£1.10) in Russia, around 100 times more than before the outbreak when they cost usually 1 ruble (1p).

Half of the products in the vending machines are targeted at children as they are close to a playground.

The company reportedly considered branding the packs as "Apocalypse Kits" but are yet to decide on this.

Russia has so far reported a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, with 495, although this was up 57 on yesterday.

Only one person is confirmed to have died, despite Russia sharing a 2,600-mile border with China.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has put this down to his country's early response measures, such as shutting down the Chinese border back on January 30, as well as setting up quarantine zones.

But there have been reports Russia is under-testing, while also hiding the true number of figures by disguising diagnoses as other diseases such as pneumonia or acute respiratory infection.

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Russian doctor and opposition supporter Anastasia Vasilyeva told CNN: "You see they said the first coronavirus patient that died, that the cause of death was thrombosis.

"That's obvious, nobody dies from coronavirus itself, they die from the complications, so it's very easy to manipulate this."

But this claim has been denied by Moscow health officials, while the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Dr Vujnovic also cast doubt on it.

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"If there was a hidden, unrecognised burden somewhere it would be seen in these pneumonia reports," she said.

Yesterday, Russian military planes brought coronavirus aid to Italy, as the country's death toll continued to soar.

Reports say Putin is defying coronavirus isolation advice to stay indoors after all Russian citizens over 65 were subjected to strict new rules.

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