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31 Mar, 2020 12:25

Covid-19 deaths in Russia almost DOUBLE in single day: Parliament clears path for state of emergency

Covid-19 deaths in Russia almost DOUBLE in single day: Parliament clears path for state of emergency

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 500 on Tuesday – a new daily record for the world’s largest country. Authorities also reported eight new deaths, bringing the overall total to 17.

The latest figures mean Russia has now recorded 2,337 known Covid-19 infections, with 121 patients recovered. While cases are beginning to multiply, the country still remains an outlier in European terms. Other large states, such as Italy and Spain, have been hit much harder by the outbreak, with even the likes of Ireland, Luxembourg and Norway, with comparatively tiny populations, more badly affected, so far.

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The rapid increase in cases has been matched with the introduction of increasingly strict measures by the authorities to contain the spread of the disease. As part of the fight against Covid-19, Russia is currently observing a national week-long paid holiday.

Meanwhile, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, as well as in over 40 other regions of the country, a mandatory stay-at-home regime has been introduced for all residents. The rules, first introduced by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, who also heads the nationwide coronavirus response task force, state that everyone must stay inside at all times, with exceptions only to buy food, medicine, walk pets, dispose of trash, or travel to work that is deemed essential.

On Monday morning Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin asked Russia’s regional heads to consider introducing similar restrictions in the capital. Many areas of the country have since complied.

“A regime of isolation is introduced for all age groups, with the exception of cases when emergency care is needed, or where you need to go to the store for food, or to travel to work […] and other really good reasons,” Mishustin explained. “In the current situation, this will help to protect yourself and your loved-ones. I ask the leaders of Russia’s Federal Subjects to pay attention to the experience of their colleagues and to work out the possibility of introducing such measures in their regions.”

On Tuesday, Russia’s parliament adopted a law to expand the powers of the government and its right to announce a state of emergency. If declared, this would give authorities the ability to establish mandatory rules of conduct for citizens. The relevant agencies say that it will increase the nation’s ability to effectively fight the pandemic. However, speaking to radio station Echo of Moscow, political scientist Andrei Kolesnikov has warned that, while the legislation can be “explained by the needs of the moment,” in the long term it will give the government “much more substantial capabilities to suppress human rights.” He expressed a worry that, once the pandemic is controlled, this new law will be used to turn Russia into a police state.

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Most of the new infections were recorded in Moscow (387), with Saint Petersburg being the second-hardest hit (48). The new cases include diagnoses in two Russian regions – remote Magadan and southern Astrakhan. Of Russia’s 85 federal subjects, 73 now have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

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