AGENCIES, Moscow: Coronavirus has killed more than 211,000 people worldwide and continues to spread, Russia has stepped up its measures to slow the pandemic’s spread within its borders.
Till now, in that country there have been 93,558 cases of coronavirus infections and 867 deaths. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday extended the national “non-working” month through May 11, warning that Russia has yet to see the peak of its coronavirus outbreak.
Russia is now the eighth most-affected country in terms of infections, having surpassed China and Iran this week. The majority of Russia’s cases are in Moscow, although Covid-19 patients have been confirmed in every one of Russia’s 85 regions and the spread is accelerating outside the capital.
Since March 30, all of Moscow’s 12 million residents have been ordered to stay in their homes with few exceptions. Putin originally declared a “non-working” week late in March, then extended it until Thursday, April 30, as Russia registered increases in Covid-19 cases.
“The situation remains very complicated… Russia has managed to slow down the spread of the epidemic, but we haven’t passed the peak yet,” Putin said on a conference call with regional governors.
The extended lockdown measures affect Russia’s early-May public holidays, which normally have three working days between May 1 and May 11. “I think it’s right to declare these three days [May 6-8] non-working. Thus, the non-working period will extend until May 11,” he said.
City authorities also tightened the lockdown by introducing a digital permit system, requiring that anyone travelling by car or public transport obtain a pass.
Russia has carried out more than 3 million coronavirus tests, though there have been concerns about their reliability.
Putin addressed the nation on the coronavirus pandemic for the first time on Wednesday afternoon — a month after Russia announced its first case.
The Russian leader kicked off the speech by postponing a planned April 22 vote on constitutional changes that could see him remain in the Kremlin until 2036. He did not announce a new date for the vote.