Staunton, July 24 – Russian medical experts say their country faces a second and worse wave of the pandemic later this year, one that will force a return to more restrictive measures on the population. Some predict it will begin shortly after pupils return to schools and spread the virus (mk.ru/social/2020/07/24/kto-zarazil-rossiyukoronavirusom-kitayskaya-versiya-otpala.html and mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/k-novomu-karantinu-vse/).
Meanwhile, the first wave continues, easing in some places but getting worse in others. Moscow officials announced that 5811 new cases had been registered, bringing the overall total to 800,849, and 154 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing that toll to 13,406 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1117).
Among the institutions the pandemic is hitting are doctors and members of legislatures. The St. Petersburg governor said more than 7,000 medical workers in his city had been infected (https://regnum.ru/news/3019227.html); and Federal Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko said two members of that body were victims (ria.ru/20200724/1574839870.html).
The Russian media is full of talk about a vaccine breakthrough, but a government source says that mass public inoculation will not begin until the beginning of next year (lenta.ru/news/2020/07/24/corona_vac/). Moreover, another case of a re-infection was reported raising new questions about immunity (kp.ru/daily/27160.5/4258929/).
At a time when many things are being reopened but some closed again, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko says that all restrictions connected with the coronavirus will be eliminated by February 2021 (regnum.ru/news/3019472.html).
Moscow continued to imply that protests in Khabarovsk had led to a spike in infections there, but at the same time, it announced that it was sending more medical equipment to the region, raising questions about the state of care there and whether protesting can force Moscow’s hand on such things (regnum.ru/news/3018814.html and regnum.ru/news/3018679.html).
Pandemic-related economic news was largely bad: Consumer confidence dropped in June to 30 percent, down 19 percent from a year earlier (regnum.ru/news/3019114.html). Oil sales to foreign countries fell to the lowest level since 2000 (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78480). And the Central Bank said 38 percent of Russians now have no savings on which to draw (cbr.ru/Collection/Collection/File/29034/inFOM_20-07_7.pdf).
But there was one bright spot of a kind: three Russian billionaires reportedly have seen their wealth grow since the pandemic started (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/three-russian-billionaires-were-enriched-during-a-pandemic/).
Many Russians have long expressed concern that the authorities will extend monitoring devices they put in place to deal with the pandemic after the coronavirus passes. Evidence for that surfaced today when Moscow announced it was taking bids on a project to install facial recognition devices in the capital’s subway (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F1A74F5D6D44).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Officials said they had imposed more than 5,000 fines on Moscow stores for failing to obey mask requirements (regnum.ru/news/3019547.html).
· Moscow residents purchased 60 percent fewer masks in July than in May (regnum.ru/news/3018750.html).
· And because the Russian government has shifted funds from infrastructure repairs and development during the pandemic, projects in those areas are not being fulfilled and roads and other communications links are deteriorating at a faster rate (kommersant.ru/doc/4426634?from=main_6).
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