The United States of America and Russia are again at the top of a list of coronavirus infections, but neither really wants to be there.
Over the month of May, Russia has seen a rapid rise of new coronavirus cases and many fear that the worst is yet to come as they now have the second-highest number of coronavirus cases. As of this writing, the entire country has 281,752 confirmed cases, with over half of those coming from the capital Moscow.
Many experts have highlighted the enormous potential crisis as the country’s entire 11 time zones have been affected in one way or another. The biggest issue is that a lot of distant regions that have been reached are rather impoverished and very hard to get to.
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Putin Already Directing A Reduction In Lockdown Measures
President Vladimir Putin has spoken to the nation’s 85 regional heads on Monday via video conference. He stated that it would be up to them to decide whether or not to further impose lockdown restrictions or ease into a cautious approach and slowly reopen the economy.
“We have a big country,” he said. “The epidemiological situation varies across the regions. We factored this in before, and now at the next stage, we have to act even more specifically and carefully.”
This course of preserving the autonomy of the country’s districts may have already shown its flaws. Some suspicious numbers have been reported across the board, from the Kaliningrad region to the Chelyabinsk region in the Ural mountains.
Suspicious Statistics Of Coronavirus Cases
Russian Vice-Premier Tatiana Golikova maintained the government’s stance that the numbers haven’t been manipulated. The biggest bone of contention for many independent observers has been death rates when compared to other nations.
Despite getting really close to the 300,000 infected, Russia only has 2,631 COVID-19-related deaths. This number puts them at a level with the likes of India and Peru who have three times less the amount of cases.
Moscow health officials are strongly arguing that their data is correct and that it’s “absolutely open” to anyone for analysis. However, they also acknowledged that they take into account only deaths that were determined post-mortem have had the virus.
Sobyanin In Spotlight
Despite Putin’s statement of self-governance, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin indicated that he’s in no rush to end the lockdown.
“Premature removal of restrictions carries a real risk of a second pandemic,” he said in a statement Thursday. “Unjustified delays will also hit people in the strongest way.”
Sobyanin has more or less been the de facto face of Russia’s fight against the pandemic. This is definitely a grim look for president Putin.
Ever since the crisis started, he’s been curiously recluse at his residence at Novo-Ogaryovo.
Moscow authorities opened a new hospital in April when the number of cases started going up. It is a very respectable feat as the sole purpose of this hospital is fighting the coronavirus and it’s been built in a month.
Enormous Healthcare Crisis
While Moscow has been hit the worse with the coronavirus, it holds by far the most resources to adequately fight it. A fact many other regions across the nation envy.
It’s no surprise that under Sobyanin Moscow became a very tourist-friendly destination. It’s estimated that around $20.5 billion has been spent on that beautification project in the last decade. This enterprise saw Moscow get high-end real estate, hip cafes, and many refurbished park landscapes.
This is another reason why other regions feel neglected. It’s estimated that the same amount of money has been spent on such projects for the rest of the country in total.
It’s been stated that this disparity may be the cause of Russian more rural areas being hit a lot worse. Another level of strain on an already failing healthcare system might prove too much and cause Russia to reach the American levels of the epidemic.
Moscow Rolls Out Brand New Testing System
On May 15th officials started testing citizens of Moscow for free. The new method claims to be able to detect COVID-19 antibodies. This is a step that will allow authorities to determine if people had the virus, but have been asymptomatic.
Mayor Sobyanin announced that by the end of May, there will be 200,000 possible daily tests. He still remained firm and demanded caution when it comes to lifting the measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Premature removal of restrictions carries a real risk of a second pandemic. Unjustified delaying will also hit people most strongly,” he said.
Good News On The Horizon?
Saturday’s report indicates 3,505 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number since the beginning of May. Numbers have been in gradual decline across Russia since the peak in early May.
However, there is a real concern about the rapidly increasing number of daily deaths. On May 16th the country reached a new record number of 119 deaths in a day.