Staunton, September 17 – As the uptick in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continues, ever more Russians fear that the government is about to introduce more restrictions and require vaccinations, an attitude that has prompted officials to deny that they have plans to do either.
Today the central staff reported that Russian officials have registered 5762 new cases of infection, bringing that total to 1,085,281, and 144 more deaths, upping that toll to 19.061, both higher than they have been since July and sparking worries that the virus is on the attack (t.me/COVID2019_official/1515 and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/17/87133-korona-vozvraschaetsya-na-prestol).
The Kremlin annou9nced it had no plans to re-impose restrictions but at the same time said that the decision to do so would be made by the governors rather than by the central government (regnum.ru/news/3066364.html and regnum.ru/news/3066719.html).
One of their number, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin reflected the tough position they find themselves in: He took credit for the fact that 99 percent of pupils are in classrooms but called on businesses to continue distance working (regnum.ru/news/3066739.html and kommersant.ru/doc/4494202?from=main_7).
Elsewhere, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow with new closures seemingly as common as new re-openings, even as officials declared that the epidemiological situation of the country as a whole was “stable” (regnum.ru/news/society/3064298.html and regnum.ru/news/3066259.html).
As far as forced vaccinations are concerned, Prime Minister Mikhail Murashko insisted they would not take place (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/minzdrav-prinuditelnoy-vaktsinatsiya-ot-koronavirusa-v-rossii-ne-budet/ and regnum.ru/news/3065779.html); but ever more experts suggested they are likely given popular resistance (newizv.ru/article/general/17-09-2020/virusolog-vaktsinu-sputnik-v-ispytyvayut-na-lyudyah-v-prinuditelnom-poryadke). Gamaley Laboratory officials said that the attitudes of Russians toward the vaccine were irrelevant as far as public policy is concerned because the vaccine is still being tested (regnum.ru/news/3065757.html), and Vektor Laboratories said that its vaccine would not provide lifetime protection given mutations in the virus (regnum.ru/news/3066440.html).
Meanwhile, several over-the-counter medications against the coronavirus went on sale in Russia, likely depressing interest in the vaccine (nakanune.ru/news/2020/9/17/22583938/). Also pushing down interest is the opposition of many Orthodox clergy (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/16/87124-udarnaya-doza-apokalipsisa).
On the economic front, experts said unreported payments to workers had fallen during the pandemic because the parts of the economy where those are the most common had been the hardest hit (regnum.ru/news/3065945.html). Moscow’s effort to boost housing via lower interest rates is clashing with its cutbacks in the construction of low-price apartments (ng.ru/economics/2020-09-17/4_7967_housing.html and babr24.com/msk/?IDE=205017).
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reported that the Russian government expects to run deficits totaling 5.4 trillion rubles (80 billion US dollars) over the next three years because of the shadow of the economic downturn sparked by the pandemic (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80131).
And in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Prime Minister Mikhail Murashkov said that wearing masks and maintaining social distance remain the most important steps Russians can take to prevent a recurrence of the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3066201.html).
· A commentator has suggested that Russians, like many other nations, are now divided into two groups, those who try to be careful and those who take pride in not doing so and in showing their readiness to die (newizv.ru/comment/alina-vituhnovskaya-2/16-09-2020/o-transformatsii-cheloveka-v-kovidnuyu-epohu).
· The expert community in Russia is pressing the government to adopt a negative income tax so that those hit hardest by the pandemic can recover (ng.ru/economics/2020-09-17/4_7967_economics1.html).
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