Staunton, October 17 – Infection rates among pupils in Russian schools are relatively low, but infections among teachers are rising rapidly, forcing officials in some regions to keep the schools open until all teachers are ill and then be compelled to close them or shift to distance learning now (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/10/17/87560-skoro-uchit-detey-budet-nekomu).
Because of Moscow’s repeated statements that the schools won’t close, the first is the most palatable option in the short term; but if ever more teachers get sick, that will not only force the closing of schools eventually but make their eventual reopening that much more difficult, another case where short-term thinking is undermining long-term goals.
Today, Russian officials registered 14,922 new cases of infection and 249 new deaths, raising the respective figures to 1,384,235 and 24,002 (regnum.ru/news/3092202.html). There were cases almost everywhere and officials were trying to decide what to close and how much to fight the pandemic without hurting the economy (regnum.ru/news/society/3088420.html).
A Moscow epidemiologist suggested that the major reason behind the new spike and spread of the virus was that individuals who went to resorts for vacations and did not observe recommended constraints brought the virus back home with them on their return (capost.media/news/otdykh/v-minzdrave-zayavili-chto-90-zabolevshikh-koronavirusom-kurortniki/).
One piece of evidence suggesting that travelers are a problem: Moscow officials announced that residents of the capital had been fined one million rubles (15,000 US dollars) for failing to file required forms confirming that they had been tested on return from abroad (znak.com/2020-10-17/turistov_iz_moskvy_oshtrafovali_na_1_mln_za_otsutstvie_dannyh_o_testirovanii_na_covid_19).
Complaints from regions that anti-covid over-the-counter medications are not available have prompted the health ministry to deny that is the case (sibreal.org/a/30898443.html and
regnum.ru/news/3092340.html). Russian officials announced that Russia has come up with a medication that prevents spread of the virus within the bodies of those infected (regnum.ru/news/3092179.html).
In other “vaccine” news, officials said foreign demand for the Russian vaccine had eased because of uncertainty about its safety and effectiveness (currenttime.tv/a/russia-vaccine-coronavirus/30897370.html).
According to a Kasparov commentator, many of the problems with the pandemic reflect the fact t6hat Moscow “threw the regions to the winds of fate,” taking pride in its own policies but blaming others in the regions for any and all shortcomings (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F8B2E54CAB15).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Anger is spreading about Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s requirement that night club customers give their names and contact information for contract tracing. Many say this is an unnecessary intrusion into their lives (regnum.ru/news/3092277.html).
· Economist Yevgeny Gontmakher says that “the authorities have not even thought about providing new forms of assistance to Russians” suffering from the pandemic-related economic downturn (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/10/17/87561-vlasti-dazhe-ne-dumayut-o-novyh-merah-pomoschi).
· Researchers say that new and more aggressive forms of the coronavirus may come from animals and that those who are infected with the coronavirus after having the flu are at risk of encephalitis (https://ura.news/news/1052454593).