Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Moscow Officials Stop Using Coefficient of Spread of Virus After It Rose Following the July 1 Referendum

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 27 – Russian officials have used the coefficient of spread of the virus, the statistic which shows how many people are infected by each victim. When it is over one, they have said restrictions must remain in place; when it falls below 0.8, then a region can shift to phase two as far as reopening is concerned; and when it is below 0.5, to the third.

            But in the wake of the July 1 referendum, this measure in Moscow, for the first time since April, gone above one and now stands at 1.105. But instead of keeping the city at the highest level of restrictions, officials have chosen a different strategy: they have ceased using this measure to guide their actions (

            That sets the stage for potentially serious increases in the number of cases in the coming weeks; and if other regions as is likely are following Moscow’s shift, the downward trend in infections  the government has been trumpeting is likely to slow or even be reversed as parts of Russia reopen more rapidly than the use of this indicator would justify.

            Other figures allow for a more optimistic interpretation. Officials reported that the number of new cases for Russia as a whole stood at 5635 for the last 24 hours bringing the cumulative total to 818,120 while the number of deaths from the coronavirus rose by 85 to 13,354 (

            The pandemic and responses to it continued to ebb and flow across the country ( One hotspot is St. Petersburg where more than 7011 medical workers have now been infected, with 23 deaths, and where officials say they mustn’t change the profile of hospitals given the probability of a second wave ( and

            Elsewhere, for example, Ingushetia decided to postpone moving to the next stage of lifting restrictions because the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus has been rising (

            But despite problems, the education ministry announced that schools would open on September 1 as scheduled earlier and that it had no plans for introducing distance learning even in hotspots (

            The race for a vaccine continued, with various labs reporting progress but not yet completing the normal testing protocols ( But there are new reports about skepticism in the population about the possibility that any such medications might be more harmful than doing without them (

            Economic news continued to be largely negative. Higher School of Economics investigators reported the largest decline ever in consumer confidence, with the falloff being especially large among those with mid-range incomes ( And Rosstat reported falling profits and rising losses in businesses of various kinds (

            Perhaps most ominously, Moscow economists say that a second wave of the coronavirus will lead to declining demand and declining prices for oil and gas, thus harming the Russian economy that is dependent on export sales of these still further (

            Meanwhile, Moscow officials told Muslim leaders that, despite improvements in the epidemiological situation in the capital, they must comply with all restrictions on contact during the upcoming Kurban-Bayram celebrations (

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