Saturday, May 1, 2021

Infections in Moscow Rise Sharply, Sparking Widespread Fear Despite Improvement Beyond Ring Road

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 28 – Over the last 24 hours, registered coronavirus infections in the Russian capital rose dramatically even though the figures for the rest of the country have remained relatively stable or have even fallen, sparking fears among officials and the population of a new wave of the pandemic

            On the one hand, such fears are entirely justified. In the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Moscow led the way in infections and if numbers there are rising again, there is good reason for concern that the situation now could repeat that past. But on the other, these fears reflect the Moscow-centric way of thinking that affects Russian officials.

            When Moscow is doing well and the rest of the country is falling behind economically or any other way, those in the center and many foreign observers who seldom look beyond the ring road assume everything is fine. When the reverse is true and Moscow is doing badly, such people assume that all of Russia is doing badly even when that is not the case.

            Today, Russian officials reported registering 9284 new cases of infection and 364 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours. All of the increase from the day before came in Moscow where the number of infections jumped to more than 3200 for the first time in months. Elsewhere increases were matched by decreases ( and

            The pandemic continues to ebb and flow across Russia, with some regions increasing restrictions in advance of Russian Easter and the May holidays and others reducing them or eliminating them altogether (,  and

            A new poll finds that half of all Russians believe the places where they work are doing a good job in defending them against infections (, but anecdotal reporting suggests that many children are suffering from misapplied masks and other limitations being used incorrectly (

            A majority of Russians believe that vaccination is an effective means of fighting the coronavirus, but many are choosing not to get the shots out of fear, ignorance or a belief that the government isn’t telling them the truth (, and

            Others who want the shots can’t get them because of logistical problems. Regional officials are trying to overcome this problem by offering rewards to those who get vaccinated (

But one analyst says that the whole problem can be solved if Moscow declares there is a shortage of vaccine. In that event, Aleksey Firsov says, all Russians will want to get it because they will see it as forbidden fruit which by its very nature must be “sweeter” (

On the economic front, two-thirds of Russians say they plan to improve their skills or even acquires ones that will allow them to change jobs after the pandemic is over (

Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no knowledge of any plans to extend the already-lengthened May holidays further even though some federal subjects are doing so to allow for religious holidays (

The health ministry said that the share of Russians who are maintaining a healthy way of life has fallen dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. They are eating less well, drinking more, and exercising less (

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