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19 Apr, 2020 08:27

Russian Covid-19 cases spike by over 6,000 as Putin says situation is 'under control'

Russian Covid-19 cases spike by over 6,000 as Putin says situation is 'under control'

Russia has entered the world's top ten countries for coronavirus infections after 6,060 new cases were announced on Sunday, bringing the total to 42,853. It is the biggest one day rise recorded by the Russian response team.

The figure, partially ascribed to an improved testing regime, is a considerable jump on Saturday's tally of 4,785 fresh instances and suggests that Russia is still some way from flattering the curve in the spread of the killer disease. This is despite a strict semi-lockdown across most of the world's largest country.   

Meanwhile, officials announced 48 new deaths, 28 of them in Moscow, bringing the overall Russian Covid-19 death toll to 361. The age-range of the dead in the capital was from 30 to 91. Most had severe pre-existing conditions. 

The national epicentre remains Moscow and its environs. More than two-thirds of the infections reported on Sunday (4,279) were recorded in the capital and its surrounding region. The densely populated city is Europe's largest with around 13 million residents and its metro area contains more than 20 million people. 

Outside of Moscow, the coronavirus continues to spread across Russia, with Nizhny Novgorod (129), Saint Petersburg (114) and Arkhangelsk (109) also registering a large amount of new cases. 

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin used his Easter address to calm fears, saying the situation with the pandemic in Russia is manageable. “Authorities on all levels are functioning in a streamlined, orderly manner and recognize the responsibility before them. The situation is under total control. Our society as a whole becomes united when confronted with a common threat." he assured the public. "As I have repeatedly said, we have everything we need for this – a healthy and strong economy, scientific capabilities, the necessary material base and highly professional healthcare."

Putin added that his government is closely monitoring the situation in foreign countries, and using their experiences to plan the response to the pandemic. "We are aware of what is going on and see the risks, and we know what needs to be done under any circumstance we might face. We are doing what is required, and in a pre-emptive manner," he said. 

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Rock-star turned opposition politician Sergei Shnurov criticised the government's response on Sunday, calling for stronger measures to prevent people falling into poverty. “If they stay home for another month, many will simply have nothing to eat," the 'Party of Growth' member wrote on Instagram. "It is already obvious to everyone, except the authorities, that the situation is am emergency and requires decisive action not only from the security forces, but also from the economic bloc."

Up to 60 percent of all Covid-19 patients in Russia, and Moscow in particular, have no symptoms, officials also revealed. The number of people hospitalized over Covid-19 has not grown significantly, and the healthcare system is coping with the inflow of new patients, authorities claim. 

While Russia is tenth in the world in terms of coronavirus diagnoses, it is 26th in the list of fatalities, sandwiched between Algeria and Denmark, and its 361 is very small compared to the likes of France (19,323) and the United Kingdom (16,060). This indicates that its testing system may be more efficient than in many other countries. Some suggest it's evidence of an attempt to hide the real statistics or that deaths caused by Covid-19 are being mis-recorded. However, the figure for the deceased in Russia isn't dramatically out of sync with large neighboring states, such as Poland (350) and Ukraine (141), and it's unlikely all three would be colluding on a cover-up, especially given the levels of political enmity. 

Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surpassed 2.3 million. The pandemic has taken more than 160,000 lives.

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