The passenger plane was shot down over Russia-occupied Donbas in July 2014 / REUTERS

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Four suspects, three Russians and a Ukrainian, are set to go on trial in absentia on March 9, Reuters said.

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The trial will start as planned on Monday, the court said.

"The Dutch judiciary has taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus," a statement said. "However, we advise people who have been to risk areas and are showing flu symptoms or a fever to stay at home."

The National Institute for Public Health, known by its Dutch acronym RIVM, said on Tuesday, March 3, six more people had tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, taking the total in the Netherlands to 24.

Hundreds of relatives of the victims and journalists have registered to attend the hearings at a special high-security courtroom near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. The proceedings will be broadcast by video stream.