Russia on Saturday claimed it has created a drug, based on the antimalarial Mefloquine, to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The drug prevents virus replication in cells and as a result stops the inflammatory process caused by the virus, the Russian Federal Biomedical Agency said in a statement.

Veronika Skvortsova, the agency’s head, said Mefloquine has to be combined with antibiotics for the maximum effect, allowing increase in the concentration of antiviral agents in blood plasma and lungs.

"This will ensure effective treatment of patients with various degrees of coronavirus infection," Skvortsova said.

Earlier in the day, the Russian government announced 228 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number in the country to 1,264, with six deaths.

A total of 49 people have so far recovered from the virus.

In a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Russia has banned entry of foreign nationals and canceled all international flights.

Authorities are also considering a ban on movement inside the country.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 177 countries and regions, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than 618,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll surpassing 28,600, and over 135,700 recoverie