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European tourists quarantined in Mongolia after two die of bubonic plague

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European tourists quarantined in Mongolia after two die of bubonic plague
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Tourists and residents in the Mongolian city of Ulgii have been stranded for almost a week by a quarantine put in place after two people were believed to have died from the bubonic plague.

The victims, a couple both reported to be in their thirties, are said to have contracted the disease by eating raw marmot meat.

As suspicions arose over the cause of their deaths, the Mongolian Ministry of Health initiated a quarantine over the area from May 1, which included the western city of Ulgii near the border with China and Russia.

Flights into the city were also diverted or cancelled, and a Mongolia-Russia border crossing was temporarily closed.

Among those under quarantine were a number of European tourists from Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany.

One such tourist - Russian national Evgeny Viluzhanin - wrote on Facebook: "thanks to the woolly fat hamster, I had to spend three days in the city of Ulgii."

He added: "While we were cold on the glacier, quarantine was announced here, and at night at the entrance of the city we were wildly tired and embraced by local police."

Благодаря шерстяному жирному хомяку пришлось провести три дня в городе Ульгий. Пока мы мёрзли на леднике тут объявили...

Publiée par Evgeny Viluzhanin sur Lundi 6 mai 2019

Another Russian tourist was quoted in the Siberian Times as saying she thought the bubonic plague was something to only exist in the Dark Ages.

"This is just so surreal," she said.

Mongolian authorities eventually lifted the quarantine on Monday evening, allowing tourists to leave.

In a statement, the health ministry said 124 people had been given antibiotics and were under a doctor's supervision, but evidence of symptoms had not been found.

The plague can be extremely serious for humans, but if caught early can be treated with antibiotics, according to the World Health Organisation.

Infamous cases of plague outbreaks in history include the Black Death, which killed an estimated 25 million people across Europe in the 14th century.

An outbreak in the UK 300 years later wiped out a fifth of the population of London.