Staunton, July 10 – There were two warnings from the World Health Organization that may affect Russia. The organization’s president warned that the coronavirus is going to be around and a problem far longer than most think (vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2020/07/10/834378-neskorom-ischeznovenii-koronavirusaseverreal.org/a/30717772.html).
And Russia’s own medical specialists at the Academy of Sciences says that the pandemic may continue until 60 percent of the population has been infected and her immunity is established regardless of when a vaccine might become available (business-gazeta.ru/article/474315).
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said his city was close to that level and that as a result, he did not expect a second wave or any need to reimpose controls that he has been systematically lifting in recent weeks (kp.ru/online/news/3938459/).
In announcing today’s toll from the pandemic, officials noted that the daily increase in infections has been less than 7,000 over the last two weeks. Today, 6635 new cases of infections were reported, bringing the cumulative total to 713,936; and 174 deaths bringing the total losses to just over 11,000 (стопкоронавирус.рф/information/).
Other statistics became available which both call into question the official numbers and explain some of the complexities of determining exactly what the level of loss caused by the pandemic is. St. Petersburg reported 7106 deaths during June, the highest on record since 2011 and at least part caused by the pandemic (kommersant.ru/doc/4408706).
And Rosstat released its death figures for April and May. It said 7444 Russians had died from the coronavirus, far more than the daily official figures add up to; but the agency noted that many of those who had died had co-morbidities making the assignment of blame difficult and in some cases arbitrary (snob.ru/society/rosstat-za-maj-ot-covid-19-v-strane-umerli-7444-cheloveka/, gks.ru/storage/mediabank/yjmHZnUV/edn05-2020.htm and rbc.ru/society/10/07/2020/5f087b119a7947a8df537ab4).
Given Russian suspicions that there have been more deaths than officials are reporting, a story that said there were body bags in a trash area outside of a hospital in Tomsk attracted widespread attention and led to at least one official being fired (themoscowtimes.com/2020/07/10/siberian-official-fired-over-disputed-coronavirus-body-bags-a70841 and tomsk.mk.ru/social/2020/07/06/poyavilis-foto-gde-kovidnyy-morg-pri-gorbolnice-3-tomska-zavalen-telami.html).
More resorts and tourist facilities are reopening in the North Caucasus (capost.media/news/otdykh/in-kabardino-balkar-republic-hotels-hostels-boarding-houses-were-allowed-to-resume-activity/), but fears are increasing that many private museums and galleries won’t reopen ever (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/07/10/86227-pandemiyu-my-ne-perezhili).
The Central Bank reported that income earnings had fallen for the sixth strait quarter and now sand at the lowest level since 2005, the result of the pandemic and associated collapse in the oil and gas markets (finanz.ru/novosti/valyuty/cb-obnaruzhil-rekordnuyu-za-6-let-dyru-v-platezhnom-balanse-rossii-1029384645).
There was one small bright spot reported: Chinese companies moved some of their production from China to the Russian Far East when China was being restricted and Russia not yet. That gave the region a slight upward bump but it is unlikely to last (russian.eurasianet.org/как-коронавирус-стимулировал-бизнес-переносить-производства-из-китая-в-россию).
Also, another senior Russian official, Andrey Chibis, the Murmansk governor, said that the experience with controls that the authorities had gained during the pandemic would not be lost because many of those controls will continue to be imposed even after the pandemic passes (rosbalt.ru/russia/2020/07/09/1852928.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related news from Russia today,
· Officials are discussing the possibility of denominating the ruble by a factor of 100 and then bringing back the kopeck. They may be counting on the pandemic to distract people from the psychological impact of that move (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2020/07/09/834313-denominatsii-rublya).
· Radical right Russian groups have been consistently skeptical about the existence of the pandemic and critical of all efforts by the authorities to control it, according to a new SOVA study (sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/publications/2020/07/d42635/).
· The coronavirus has now reached for the first time residents of the tundra in the Russian Far North in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District (interfax.ru/russia/716780).