Russia registered 12,126 new daily cases of coronavirus on Friday, exceeding the peak in May when the country observed strict containment which is not on the agenda for the time being.
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The previous record was 11,656 contaminations in 24 hours in May. At the time, the vast majority of businesses and places of entertainment were closed and Russians confined in the hope of stopping the virus.
These measures were suddenly lifted in June, before a major military parade in Moscow and the vote for a constitutional reform which notably gave Vladimir Putin the right to remain in power until 2036.
But while the new cases identified have skyrocketed since early September, the return of drastic measures, as in the spring, is not clearly envisaged by the authorities for the moment.
On Friday, the Kremlin said that if the situation continued to deteriorate, it would require “actions, decisions”, without further details.
“It is obvious that many (people) do not consider it necessary to take care of their health,” commented Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The Russian authorities seem to want to avoid large-scale restrictive measures, deeming the health system capable of ensuring the reception of patients and the stocks of protective means and sufficient drugs.
Since the start of the epidemic, Russia has officially registered 1,272,238 cases, including 22,257 fatalities, and remains fourth in the world in terms of the number of contaminations.
” What should be done? ”
In Saint Petersburg, the country’s second city, Stella clearly sees a step backwards. “The measures were relaxed slightly, people were walking around quietly without masks and having fun. Then everything started again ”, regrets this young woman near a monument dedicated to caregivers who died from the coronavirus.
In the streets of Moscow, the main focus of the epidemic in Russia, restaurants and bars remained open and often crowded. The mask remains compulsory in public transport, but this measure is not systematically applied.
“It has become difficult to figure out what to do. Should everyone have it (the virus) or just continue to apply these measures forever, ”wonders Tatiana Nemirovskaïa, a 30-year-old Muscovite.
The closure of bars, as in Paris, or the ban on gatherings of more than six people, as in the United Kingdom, is not mentioned in Russia.
At the end of September, the mayor of the capital, Sergei Sobyanin, nevertheless ordered people over 65 and those suffering from chronic diseases to confine themselves.
He also asked companies to set up teleworking for at least 30% of their employees until October 28.
“The city is taking the necessary measures”, assured Mr. Sobianine on Friday on the Pervii Kanal channel, adding that the town hall was transmitting “all the information” on the epidemic and “hiding nothing”.
During the first wave of the new coronavirus, many Kremlin critics accused authorities of purposely underestimating the number of victims. Charges rejected by Moscow.
For his part, President Putin said on Tuesday that about “fifty people” among his relatives had been vaccinated against the virus, once again praising the vaccine that Moscow says it had invented.
Russia announced in August that it had registered the world’s first vaccine against the coronavirus, called Sputnik, as the first space satellite manufactured by the Soviet Union.
It is currently being tested by 40,000 volunteers, but viewed with skepticism by several experts, in particular because it had not reached the final phase of testing at the time of its announcement.