Staunton, June 26 – Russian outlets today celebrated the decline in new cases to below 7,000, the lowest level since early April and the decline in the coefficient of spread to below one (0.91) which suggests that further declines will follow (tass.ru/obschestvo/8830345 and vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2020/06/26/833430-v-rossii).
But virologists and ordinary Russians worry about two new threats: the fact that the virus is mutating and presenting different challenges to different parts of the country and the possibility that Russia will face a second wave that could prove deadlier than the first (profile.ru/society/vtoraya-kovidnaya-kogda-zhdat-novoj-volny-koronavirusa-350004/, ura.news/news/1052438143 and ura.news/news/1052438128).
The numbers today, while better than in recent weeks, are still disturbing. Some 6800 new cases of the infection were registered, bringing the cumulative total to 620,794, with deaths from the pandemic up 176 (a large increase from recent days) to a total of 8781 (t.me/COVID2019_official/885).
And the debate about whether those figures are understated continued. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin insisted that it was impossible to falsify the numbers in the Russian capital and that official numbers offered there are entirely accurate (rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5ef4ca089a7947de8ad0dd0a?from=newsfeed).
But however that may be, Russia still faces problems. In Sverdlovsk Oblast, officials in one part of that region who are supposed to be supervising the referendum voting have become infected (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/06/26/162580-u-predsedatelya-odnoy-iz-uik-v-sverdlovskom-rezhe-obnaruzhili-koronavirus-posle-sobraniya-glav-vseh-gorodskih-komissiy).
Infections among aircrews have made it impossible for Moscow to supply its bases along the Arctic Ocean, raising new questions about their ability to function as planned (pomorie.ru/2020/06/25/5ef4c9f0079a21309434b872.html).
The struggle over opening and closing continues as well. Moscow officials say that the city is close to population immunity but even there many restrictions must be continued, officials say (tass.ru/moskva/8820533 and interfax.ru/moscow/714707 But officials in both North Ossetia, Sakha and Tatarstan have extended restrictions because of the pandemic (etokavkaz.ru/news/87883, eastrussia.ru/news/deystvie-ogranichitelnykh-mer-prodlili-v-yakutii/ and business-gazeta.ru/article/473042).
As far as the economy is concerned, pessimism reigns. Fewer than one in three Russian businessmen accept the government’s assurances that the economy will completely recover within a year or two. Most expect problems to remain for far longer (ehorussia.com/new/node/21058).
But perhaps of greatest concern to many Russians, the coronavirus has spread so widely in Russia’s football teams that even though officials have called for the restart of the season, some teams are refusing to play others lest their own players become infected as a result (idelreal.org/a/30692518.html and newsru.com/sport/26jun2020/oburg.html).