Staunton, September 16 – Because officials shifted resources within the medical sector to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Russian doctors significantly reduced their efforts to combat the spread of tuberculosis. As a result, health officials say, the country faces “a more horrific epidemic” later this year, one involving TB (mk.ru/science/2020/09/16/mediki-byut-trevogu-koronavirus-stal-predvestnikom-bolee-strashnoy-epidemii.html).
Despite that warning, there is little chance that money will be shifted away from fighting the coronavirus, especially as the numbers now are the worst since July. According to authorities, 5670 new cases of infection and 132 new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the respective totals to 1,079,519 and 18,917 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1508).
But while numbers are rising, officials say Russians are no longer as worried as they were. They have gotten used to the virus as just another unfortunate fact of life (newsru.com/blog/16sep2020/covid.html). The WHO says Russia is still at a plateau despite the uptick (regnum.ru/news/3065070.html).
One thing that may get the attention of Russians is that some in the government want to boost taxes on cigarettes 20 percent in order to compensate for the expenses Moscow has had to assume to fight the coronavirus and also to make up for declining revenues from other sources (regnum.ru/news/3064471.html).
Russian medical officials are giving conflicting advice on how long people who have had the virus remain immune and whether they need to be vaccinated with some saying they need to and others dismissing the idea (regnum.ru/news/3064949.html and regnum.ru/news/3064671.html). Another debate has broken out about the level of herd immunity in various parts of the country (sovsekretno.ru/news/okolo-50-zhiteley-nekotorykh-regionov-rf-imeyut-immunitet-ot-koronavirusa/).
Resistance to vaccinations of any kind remains high. In some parts of the Russian Far East, a third of parents are refusing to have their children vaccinated against the flu. Many will likely refuse to get them inoculated against the coronavirus too when that vaccine becomes available there (regnum.ru/news/3064726.html).
The Russian government does view the vaccine as a profit center, however. It has announced plans to sell 100 million doses of the Sputnik 5 vaccine to India (rdif.ru/Eng_fullNews/5787/).
The pandemic continues to ebb and flow across the country, often hitting places officials have been upbeat about only recently (regnum.ru/news/society/3064298.html). For example, Rostov-na-Donu now reports that people are having to wait “several days” for ambulances because of new infections (regnum.ru/news/3065470.html).
Russians are especially worried about the spread of the virus among pupils in school. Educational administrators say the problem could be solved by distance learning, but government officials and many parents are opposed to that. As a result, children are getting sick and being quarantined (rosbalt.ru/piter/2020/09/16/1863763.html).
Industry associations report that 82 percent of firms have adopted one or another strategy to fight the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3065026.html). But Moscow city officials say they have had to cut back work on parks and other public spaces by 75 percent because of the pandemic (kommersant.ru/doc/4493611?from=main_9).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· St. Petersburg officials are encouraging those going to theaters to buy three tickets for each person so that they can guarantee they won’t be sitting next to someone who might spread the virus (regnum.ru/news/3065124.html).
· Moscow hoped that Russians’ inability to travel abroad would boost domestic tourism, but in many cases, people have just stayed at home and some tourist destinations within the country have seen the number of visitors decline by as much as 75 percent (regnum.ru/news/3064964.html).
· Russian restrictions on the entry of foreign students is leading many of them, including those from CIS countries, to decide to attend higher educational institutions in countries other than Russia (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/15/87099-znaniya-dlya-russkih and cabar.asia/ru/studenty-iz-tsentralnoj-azii-ne-mogut-vernutsya-v-rossiyu-na-uchebu/).