Friday, November 13, 2020

Pandemic Forces Cancellation of New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November – For many Russians, New Year’s Eve is the biggest holiday of the year. But this time around, they won’t be able to go out to restaurants, bars or theaters or take part in any mass measures, officials say, because such public gatherings would only spread the coronavirus ( and

            The bad news doesn’t end there. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin warned today that 2021 will be a difficult year for the residents of his city ( Regional leaders are certain to echo that, even though the Kremlin itself remains decidedly upbeat.

            Even more unwelcome, hospitals in many regions are now full, and many Russians, having decided they won’t get help from the government and that the vaccine won’t work or be available soon enough for many of them are trying to cure themselves, something medical experts say will only make the pandemic worse (, and

            Such actions and comments are alarming ever more Russians, and now some Russian officials are focusing their ire on Vladimir Putin whose healthcare optimization program, a euphemism for cuts over the last several years, they blame for the current disaster (

            Today, Russian officials recorded 432 new coronavirus deaths, a record since the start of the pandemic. They also recorded 19,851 new cases of infection, bringing these two tolls to 31,592 and 1,836,960 (  and They also reported that 31 percent of l cases are asymptomatic (

            The hardest hit areas per capita are now Moscow, Yamalo-Nenets AD, the Altay, Kalmykia, Magadan Oblast and Tyva (, where additional closures and restrictions are the lead stories of the day. In Moscow, the mayor says the city may avoid another complete lockdown because 2.5 to 3.0 million residents have acquired immunity ( and

            In St. Petersburg, the situation is worse and officials are moving toward much tougher restrictions especially on the elderly (

And across the country, all higher educational institutions have now been directed to go on distance learning through the end of the semester ( Most but far from all had already taken this step.

On the vaccine front, the Russian producers of the Sputnik-5 vaccine upped their estimate of how effective their medication would be to 92 percent after Pfizer announced that its competitor would be 90 percent effective and said that they had found no new side effects either ( and

Russian producers also said they were working on new medications based on coronavirus antibodies and would begin testing of a vaccine for children in May or June 2021 ( and\

And officials said that the adult vaccine was now in mass production with large numbers of doses already being shipped to the regions (  and But some observers have expressed doubt about these claims (

One thing does seem clear: Pfizer’s vaccine won’t be available in Russia anytime soon. Officials said that the company has not made any effort to register it with Moscow, a requirement for its widespread use inside the country (

On the economic front, the departure of immigrant workers is beginning to hit Russian businesses hard because they cannot find Russian workers willing to fill the low-paying jobs those from Central Asia and the Caucasus had been doing (

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         The Russian funeral industry has begun producing caskets with class windows so that relatives of those who have died from the coronavirus can see the departed. Up to now, all such victims were buried in closed caskets without this chance to say a last goodbye (

·         Doubts are being expressed in many parts of Russia that regional officials are ready to deal with mass vaccination given how much trouble they have had coping with the pandemic (

·         During the height of flu season in Russia, officials are warning that those who are infected with the flu virus and then get the coronavirus one will face a more difficult time and more likely die than those who get only one or the other (

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