Infection-free taxi: Hazmat-suit-wearing cab driver helps passengers to laugh off coronavirus hysteria (VIDEO)

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Passengers in the Siberian city of Omsk were shocked to see their taxi driver wearing a gas mask and a hazmat suit. But it turned out to be a prank to lighten the mood amid scary reports of the coronavirus reaching Russia.

Laughter is known to prolong human life, but cabbie Andrey Gonchar believes it’s also effective against the world’s newest virus or, at least, the negative psychological effect that news about the disease has on people.

That’s why he greets all his passengers while sporting full protective gear, and strictly questioning them if they’ve recently been to China.

Andrey told RT’s Ruptly video agency that initially he wasn’t sure how the people would react, but “everyone considered it to be funny, positive; they laughed at it, everyone liked it.” Many also took selfies with the man.

I cheered people up; as people got out of the car they thanked me for making their day, for their good mood in the morning.

The driver understands that the coronavirus, which has already taken more than 800 lives, is a serious matter, but he believes it’s still no reason to put your life on hold, especially in Omsk, located more than 4,000 kilometers away from Wuhan, the epicenter of the current outbreak.

Only two cases of coronavirus have been so far recorded in Russia, with both patients being Chinese citizens who’d recently arrived in the country. The infected persons, who are said to have a moderate form of the disease, and those in close contact with them, have all been quarantined at specialized hospitals.

However, media reports about the coronavirus still sent many Russians into a frenzy, with face masks becoming a scarce commodity and prices on anti-viral drugs spiking so harshly that the government decided to intervene.

Andrey the cabbie said his masquerade is needed to “distract people from the coronavirus theme, from the huge amount of information about it… because lately there has been too much negativity around this theme, so much that everyone is afraid of the virus.”

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