Staunton, October 7 -- As the pandemic drags on, officials in many countries are blaming China for it and, in the case of Gennady Onishchenko, a Russian epidemiologist who now serves in the Duma, warning that “the next virus also will come from China because all the natural conditions for that are present” (regnum.ru/news/3083668.html).
His words have not been echoed by senior Russian government officials, but if Russians conclude that China is to blame, it will be even harder for the Kremlin to build the alliance with Beijing that it has invested so much in up to now. Any further steps toward cooperation will be viewed by Russians as threatening their health and even lives.
Today, the Russian government reported registering 11,115 new cases of infection, down only slightly from yesterday, but 202 new deaths, up again. These figures bring the respective totals to 1,248,619 and 21,865. The figures for Moscow today were down, to 3229 new infections and 41 new deaths (t.me/COVID2019_official/1675).
Many Russians, including medical experts, do not believe the government’s statistics; but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today “there are no reasons” not to believe them (regnum.ru/news/3083804.html). Officials also reported that most new infections are among those aged 30 to 49, with epidemiologists predicting continued growth in the numbers (regnum.ru/news/3084223.html and https://lenta.ru/news/2020/10/07/weeks/).
Moscow officials are scrambling to deal with the new spike there. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin answered questions about the coronavirus in an effort to calm people down (echo.msk.ru/blog/ssobyanin/2721295-echo/), even as others complained Muscovites were failing to follow recommendations and promised to increase enforcement of existing rules (echo.msk.ru/news/2721333-echo.html, echo.msk.ru/news/2721323-echo.html and regnum.ru/news/3083641.html).
But observers noted that the Moscow authorities have not enforced many of the rules they have issued and so people are confused as to what is permitted and what is not (newsru.com/blog/07oct2020/mos_covid.html). One place where rules have been tightened is in prisons and detention center. Visiting times have been cut back (interfax-russia.ru/moscow/main/stolichnye-sizo-vvodyat-ogranicheniya-v-svyazi-s-covid-19).
Beyond the ring road, the pandemic has continued to ebb and flow with closings and cutbacks predominating over openings (regnum.ru/news/society/3082765.html). Despite this, many in the regions expect that the restrictions Moscow is imposing in the capital will soon spread to them, even though officials say there is no reason for a general quarantine or a closure of the borders (regnum.ru/news/3083684.html and regnum.ru/news/3083490.html).
Many experts and commentators dispute such reassuring messages, however (politobzor.net/222848-eksperty-prognoziruyut-vvedenie-karantinnyh-mer-iz-za-koronavirusa.html).
The Russian government has announced that each dose of the coronavirus will cost no more than 1,000 rubles (15 US dollars) (sobkorr.org/news/5F7D6B6DC5FF6.html). That figure is likely firm even though some in Moscow have urged the vaccine be free given widespread resistance to getting the shots.
Economists are predicting that the economy will continue to stagnate or contract in the coming months (regnum.ru/news/3083622.html), but despite appeals from business, the Kremlin says it will not increase assistance to that sector although it did say it will not reduce current aid programs (rg.ru/2020/10/07/v-kremle-rasskazali-o-planah-po-podderzhke-biznesa-v-pandemiiu.html).
On the key issue of food, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says that Russia’s agricultural sector can fully supply the needs of the population, even during the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3083851.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Anatoly Chubais reported that he has been infected and is going into self-isolation (regnum.ru/news/3084113.html).
· Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says that his city has spent 213 billion rubles (just under three billion US dollars) fighting the coronavirus (regnum.ru/news/3083596.html).
· And psychologists warn that the pandemic and the regime’s methods of combatting it are spreading depression and other mental illnesses among the population, issues they say that are affecting far more people than the disease itself and will take longer to overcome (t.me/LogicaSocialis/406 and business-gazeta.ru/article/483574).