Staunton, October 20 – The Russian government does not want to introduce a new quarantine on the population certain that such a move would be wildly unpopular and would plunge the economy into a deep recession, Aleksandr Ryklin of Yezhednevny zhurnal says (ej.ru/?a=note&id=35505).
But dramatic spikes in new infections and deaths, the sense that Russia’s hospital system is about to be overloaded, and predictions that the pandemic is likely to last two years more even if the vaccine works and is widely used are pressing the authorities to move in that direction and Russians know it (ura.news/news/1052454902, versia.ru/polnyj-lokdaun-v-rossii-nazvali-vozmozhnym-no-nezhelatelnym-scenariem and https://www.business-gazeta.ru/article/485124).
The RBC news agency published an infographic today showing just how dramatically the coronavirus situation has deteriorated (rbc.ru/society/20/10/2020/5f8017369a794784407ebca7). But perhaps an even better indicator is that Russians are now so frightened that many are coming up with imaginary self-diagnoses, adding to the burdens on the healthcare system (fedpress.ru/article/2604008).
Today’s numbers, “anti-records” in Russian parlance, are bad: The government registered 16,319 new cases of infection and 269 additional deaths (t.me/COVID2019_official/1785). It reported that doctors are monitoring more than 316,000 Russians who are deemed to have recovered, more than twice as many as last spring (regnum.ru/news/3094092.html).
But perhaps the most serious official admission is that the coefficient of reinfections has now risen to 1.1. That means that every 100 Russians infected will infect 110 people, ensuring that the rate of increase of the pandemic will accelerate. That is the highest all-Russian figure ever (regnum.ru/news/society/3092658.html).
And if that is not enough, a former Rosstat head says that the real death numbers in Russia are three times what the government is acknowledging. That puts the country at the top of European states on that measure (znak.com/2020-10-20/eks_demograf_iz_rosstata_dannye_po_smertnosti_ot_covid_19_nado_umnozhat_na_tri).
In yet another indication that Russian figures on the coronavirus pandemic are not to be trusted, Rostov officials today acknowledged that they had misreported the number of new cases as 353 when in fact it was only 290. It is unlikely they would have corrected their mistake if it had been in the other direction (regnum.ru/news/3094451.html).
The pandemic continues to spread across the country with more schools and universities shifting to distance learning and many public activities restricted, with officials adopting a tougher line against violators (regnum.ru/news/society/3092658.html and
Perhaps the most dramatic sign of this new official toughness came from the mayor of Yekaterinburg who urged those riding public transport in his city to throw off the bus or street car anyone who was violating the rules requiring the wearing of masks in public (youtube.com/watch?v=e-_6-u2v_YM).
Moscow announced that the third Russian vaccine will go into mass production by the end of the year (regnum.ru/news/3094285.html). The big problem is that many Russians don’t want to get it. In Moscow higher educational institutions, students are being offered presents if they get the shots or threatened with expulsion if they refuse (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/v-stolichnyh-vuzah-nachalas-massovaya-kampaniya-po-vakcinacii-gde-to-na-privivki-zamanivayut-podarkami-gde-to-ugrozhayut-otchislit).
On the economic front, unemployment dropped one-tenth of one percent in August, and Moscow city officials said they have no plans to shut down industrial enterprises (regnum.ru/news/3094672.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3094185.html). Russians have 25 percent less disposable income than they did before the pandemic (newizv.ru/news/economy/20-10-2020/v-rossiyskih-semyah-za-god-stalo-na-25-menshe-svobodnyh-deneg and finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/rosstat-realnye-dokhody-rossiyan-rukhnuli-vtoroy-kvartal-podryad-1029700401).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· US government agencies had to destroy 45 of the ventilators Moscow sent last spring because they did not meet American health standards (ura.news/news/1052454967).
· The only eating establishments in Russia likely to survive the pandemic, industry officials say, are fast food and carryout ones (profile.ru/economy/fastfudom-edinym-kakie-kafe-i-restorany-ne-perezhivut-pandemiyu-420450/).
· One group that believes the pandemic has helped its cause are Russian environmentalists who say that people have now concluded that the natural world is far more fragile than they imagined and thus are more ready to take measures to defend it (vtimes.io/2020/10/20/vizov-3-otnoshenie-k-ekologii-a1059).
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