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25 Sep, 2020 10:10

Fears of new lockdown after Moscow mayor asks over-65s to stay home as Covid-19 cases surge, says situation is 'serious'

Fears of new lockdown after Moscow mayor asks over-65s to stay home as Covid-19 cases surge, says situation is 'serious'

Muscovites have a reputation for being a gloomy bunch. But few could blame them for feeling melancholic and sullen after the city's Mayor announced a partial, albeit voluntary, return to some coronavirus quarantine measures.

Writing on Friday morning, Sergey Sobyanin has 'recommended' that residents of the Russian capital, aged over 65, and those with chronic illnesses stay at home due to a noticeable rise in Covid-19 cases, this week. Previously he told Rossiya-1 TV that the increase in hospitalized patients with coronavirus in Moscow is "serious." The mayor added that the situation with the spread of the infection is becoming more complicated.

"Moscow residents over 65 years of age and younger citizens with chronic illnesses shouldn’t, unless absolutely necessary, leave their homes or summer retreats," Sobyanin wrote on his personal blog. "So, starting on Monday, September 28, 2020, we are asking you to remain at home... working retirees over 65 and people with chronic illnesses are strongly urged to switch to a remote format or take a vacation. If necessary, you will receive medical leave."

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Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Moscow over the past 24 hours has increased by 1,560. This is the largest one-day increase since June 12 and also represents a major spike on the 1,050 reported on Thursday.

"In addition to the detection [of the infected], we also see a serious growth in hospitalizations. This is not a joke at all, this means that our situation is really becoming more complicated," Sobyanin said. "Of course, we need to, first of all, protect ourselves. Then, we need to strictly follow the doctors’ recommendations."

In all, over 281,000 coronavirus infections have been detected in Moscow, since the start of the pandemic, with more than 5,100 fatalities. Currently there are around 34,000 active cases in the capital.

Nevertheless, Russia's national health watchdog doesn't believe the country is experiencing a "second wave" of Covid-19. According to Rospotrebnadzor, the current spread "is developing as a continuation of the first wave."

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Epidemiologist Alexander Gorelov told reporters, on Friday, that the reason for the sudden increase could be related to the start of the flu season, as influenza and coronavirus infections can overlap. "Although the situation is not fully understood they can strengthen each other - influenza and coronavirus," he explained, stressing the importance of an influenza vaccination as a preventive measure.

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