Staunton, January 29 – The coronavirus pandemic in Russia has eased in recent weeks, Novaya gazeta says, but given that Russian behavior hasn’t changed and that less than one percent of the population has been vaccinated, it is unlikely that it has fallen by “more than 20 percent” as the government claims (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/01/29/88962-vsem-opershtabam-pristupit-k-snizheniyu).
The authorities are not releasing enough data region-by-region to allow analysts to make any conclusion other than that what information does exist suggests that the recently reported decline has more to do with officials wanting to cater to the population which is tired of the restrictions and to boost the economy by claiming greater progress has been made than in reality.
“All publicly available data show,” the paper’s journalists say, “that infections really are falling, but how significant this decline is and how long it will last is unknown.” It is possible that the pandemic is nearing its end, they conclude; but it is also possible that the recent decline may be soon be reversed.
Reports from the regions suggest that in many places the pandemic continues in almost as full force as ever, although in others, there has been improvement (regnum.ru/news/society/3176513.html). Moscow reported registering 19,238 new cases of infection and 534 new deaths over the past 24 hours (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/01/29/167482-v-rossii-vyyavili-19-238-novyh-sluchaev-zarazheniya-covid-19).
One place where officials have eased restrictions significantly is St. Petersburg, which has lifted many that it imposed last month and now rivals Moscow in re-openings (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/01/29/167495-vlasti-peterburga-razreshili-kafe-rabotat-kruglosutochno-i-uvelichili-maksimalnuyu-zapolnyaemost-zalov-v-kinoteatrah-do-50).
But at the other extreme are mining and drilling sites that workers cycle through for various periods. They have proved to be places where the coronavirus appears to spread especially widely, according to new studies (ng.ru/economics/2021-01-28/4_8069_economics1.html).
On the vaccination front, more than one million Russians have now received their shots (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/01/29/167500-chislo-privityh-ot-koronavirusa-rossiyan-prevysilo-million-chelovek), and VTsIOM reports that 57 percent of Russians favor universal vaccination (vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2021/01/28/855862-vaktsinatsiyu-covid).
That may go up when a single-shot vaccine becomes available next month, although before it does, some may put off getting two shots when they are confident that eventually one will do the job (regnum.ru/news/3177269.html). Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has assured residents that fewer than one percent who have been infected become infected again (regnum.ru/news/3177433.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan has requested producers of coronavirus vaccines to document that they Islamic food sanitation norms (regnum.ru/news/3177396.html).
· The number of deaths from the pandemic in Rostov-na-Donu have overwhelmed the capacity of the crematoria there (regnum.ru/news/3177108.html).
· Some Russian doctors are reporting that people diagnosed with schizophrenia are three times as likely to die if infected with the coronavirus than those not so diagnosed (https://regnum.ru/news/3176545.html).
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