Staunton, September 29 – A new study
by the Higher School of Economics reports that two out of three Russians say
they did not receive any help at all from the government during the first
period of self-isolation, a fact that only adds to their opposition to any
repeat of the restrictions of that period (rbc.ru/society/29/09/2020/5f72431f9a79478a90be6464).
As infections and deaths increase,
ever more regions including Moscow are returning to the restrictions they had
lifted earlier (vtimes.io/news/moskva-vozvrashchaetsya-k-samoizolyacii),
sparking questions as to what will be shut down next (http://www.sovross.ru/articles/2030/49857),
and leading to a debate as to whether a return to self-isolation will work.
One commentator, Mikhail Makogon is
extremely doubtful on that point. He says that fear won’t be enough as people
have adapted themselves to the pandemic and economic worries are intensifying.
Moreover, if there is an attempt to go back, the government’s claims will be shown
to have been lies (newsru.com/blog/29sep2020/karantin.html).
For all those reasons and more
besides, the government doesn’t want to go back (vtimes.io/news/vlasti-ne-zhdut-vtoroj-volny-epidemii),
but increasing infections and deaths, especially in Moscow, may leave it will
little or no choice. If it doesn’t reimpose restrictions, those numbers will
certainly continue their recent climb.
Even the official figures, which
many believe understate the problem, are now dire. In the last 24 hours, the Russian government
registered 8232 new cases of infection and 160 new deaths, bringing the
cumulative totals respectively to 1,167,805 and 20,545 (t.me/stopcoronavirusrussia/2212).
In Moscow alone, there were almost
100 more cases of infection than the day before (regnum.ru/news/3076426.html),
and Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin reported that the number of deputies
infected had risen to 18, forcing the parliament to shift in part to distance operations
(regnum.ru/news/3076496.html and regnum.ru/news/3076519.html).
And Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin
called attention to this by extending another week the autumn vacations of
school children in the capital (sobyanin.ru/koronavirus-2-nedeli-shkolnyh-kanikul).
Stores in some places began to restore special shopping hours for the elderly
and others at greater risk (regnum.ru/news/3076920.html).
More than 70 of Russia’s regions now
have coefficients of infection greater than one, and many are restoring
restrictions lifted earlier, especially as epidemiologists are predicting
further increases in the next few weeks (regnum.ru/news/society/3070825.html,
regnum.ru/news/3076496.html, regnum.ru/news/3076519.html and regnum.ru/news/3076155.html).
Also worrisome are reports that
hospitalizations are up in some parts of the country and that pressure on the
capacity of many medical facilities is increasing (svpressa.ru/health/news/277190/ and tass.ru/obschestvo/9574403).
Vladimir Putin spoke to this new
reality in a meeting with government ministers and said that many Russians are
tired of the restrictions they have to put up already but must recognize that
unless they are disciplined about wearing masks and observing social distance,
other more draconian measures may soon be needed (regnum.ru/news/3076875.html).
Putin’s spokesman says that the
Kremlin leader may get vaccinated if he travels abroad, a statement that only
highlights the fact that unlike many other senior officials, he has avoided
doing so up to now, raising questions as to just how much confidence he has in the
Kremlin-boosted vaccine (стопкоронавирус.рф/news/20200929-1430.html).
Epidemiologists pressed for
increasing the rate of vaccination but expressed doubts that the Russian
government could organize it (regnum.ru/news/3076358.html).
One measure of the challenge is that fewer than 20 percent of Russians have
been vaccinated against ordinary flu so far this year (regnum.ru/news/3076043.html).
There was one piece of positive news
today about the coronavirus pandemic in Russia. Medical experts say there is
little evidence that there have been any serious mutations in the virus. As a
result, any vaccine that is developed is likely to be effective for longer than
would otherwise be the case (regnum.ru/news/3076297.html).
the economic front, Russian experts predict that there may be a doubling of
unemployment in Russia by the end of the year (regnum.ru/news/3076573.html) and
that any return to self-isolation will decimate the country’s small businesses
(vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2020/09/29/841462-povtornogo-karantina). They are doubtful the government can meet its
plan to restore the economy to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021 (regnum.ru/news/3076920.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related
developments in Russia today,
fall draft of 128,000 may become a super-spreader event, some fear, adding to
the risks that events organizers have insisted on going ahead with will be that
as well (стопкоронавирус.рф/news/20200929-1427.html and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/29/87281-kinofestival-kak-triller).
the pandemic, scholars at the Higher School of Economics say, Russians have
become more willing to help neighbors than ever before (стопкоронавирус.рф/news/20200929-0830.html).
one expert says that Russia’s rush to develop a vaccine has “no relationship to
science and pharmacology” but is simply business (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80405).