Virus cases surge past 130,000 in Russia

Workers clean a street in central Moscow on May 2, 2020 amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. - Russia on Saturday reported its largest increase in coronavirus cases with the new infections rising by nearly 10,000 in a single day. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP)

MOSCOW: Russia reported a new record daily rise in coronavirus infections yesterday as the number of confirmed cases surged past 130,000.

As some European countries were looking to gradually lift restrictions, officials in Moscow – the epicentre of the contagion in Russia – urged residents to stay home despite glorious weather.

With the number of cases rising by several thousand each day, Russia is now the European country registering the most new infections.

Despite the increases, the government has indicated it could gradually lift confinement measures from May 12, depending on the region.

According to the government’s daily coronavirus update, 10,633 confirmed infections were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 134,687.

President Vladimir Putin has said the situation remains “very difficult” and warned that the country was not yet past the peak of the outbreak.

Russia’s official fatality rate has remained low in comparison to countries like Italy, Spain and the United States.

Fifty-eight people died over the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 1,280.

The authorities are preparing to set up temporary field hospitals around Moscow including at the VDNKh, the famed Soviet-era outdoor exhibition centre, in case infections continue to surge.

Muscovites have been under lockdown since March 30 and in mid-April, the authorities introduced a system of digital permits to reduce violations of the restrictions.

They have warned that the rules may be tightened further.

Residents of the Russian capital are only allowed to leave their homes to walk their dogs, take out trash and visit their nearest shop although private car journeys have not been restricted up to now.

Many complained that it was increasingly difficult to observe the quarantine as the weather was getting warmer.

n a sprawling park in southwest Moscow on Sunday, a two-person police patrol asked parents with small children to respect the confinement rules and return home. — AFP