President Vladimir Putin has extended Russia’s “non-working” month through May 11, as the country’s total caseload surpasses China’s.
“We have been able to slow down the epidemic,” Putin warned in a video conference with regional governors on Tuesday. “The peak has not yet been reached. We are facing the most intense stage of the fight against the epidemic.”
Russia has a total of 93,558 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 867 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The world’s largest country by landmass has been on lockdown since late March, which was first announced as a week-long break to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Putin then extended it until April 30, as the number of cases soared in the country.
However, health officials are increasingly concerned that people will flout lockdown measures during this time, especially since the beginning of May in Russia is marked by long public holidays for Labor Day and Victory Day.
Rospotrebnadzor Head Anna Popova stressed that the swingeing measures helped the country avoid a surge in cases and that it will continue to do so, provided that people “do not give up during the holidays.”
“That is the biggest risk today,” she said in an interview on state television.
In his fifth public statement on the outbreak, Putin asked Russians to be vigilant, saying that the peak of the epidemic in Russia, as well as the rest of the world, has not yet been reached.
“The deadly threat of the virus remains, it could affect everyone. In that regard, we all need to be concentrated, disciplined and mobilized,” he added.
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The capital city of Moscow and its surrounding areas remain to be the epicenter of the outbreak, with nearly 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. The city, one of the most isolated areas in the country because of lockdown measures in place, will also be one of the last cities to ease restrictions, with Mayor Sergei Sobyanin planning to lift restrictions on May 13.
While strict restrictions are in place – with residents allowed to go outside only for essential shopping, medical emergencies, walk pets and take out the trash, lockdown fatigue – improving weather and long holiday weekends indicate the people are looking to spend more time outdoors.
Last weekend, orders for barbecue and grilling products increased by half compared to previous weeks, according to data from online marketplace Beru. In addition, more Muscovites are flouting stay-at-home orders, with location data from internet company Yandex NV showing an increase in people going outside.
In response, Popova urged Russians to stay at home during the holidays as the country continues to grapple with the contagion.
“We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones,” she said.
In addition, Putin has ordered the government to prepare a plan for gradually lifting the restrictions, as well as a plan to stimulate the economy afterward. Experts predict the country’s economy will slow down this year, with forecasts projecting a 5-percent dip. (Related: Urgent notes – China poised to attack America during peak financial / social chaos, prepare for global warfare and economic decimation.)
“We must ensure that the wave of the epidemic finally subsides, which will enable us to carefully remove the restrictions step by step and return to the normal rhythm of life,” Putin added.
Learn more about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at Pandemic.news.
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