Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Covid Again on the Rise in Russia but Moscow Downplaying Threat and Shifting Responsibility to Regional Officials

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 8 – Over the last month, the number of covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the Russian Federation have risen dramatically, but Moscow officials have largely ignored the threat and have shifted responsibility for ensuring there is enough vaccine and medical support from themselves to already hard-pressed regional officials.

            During the week of September 4-10, Russian doctors identified 7688 new cases of coronavirus infection, 1636 were hospitalized and ten died; but during the week of September 25-October 1, the last for which data are available, there were 16,429 such diagnoses, 2556 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths (versia.ru/koronavirus-snova-idyot-po-strane-no-teper-na-nego-ne-obrashhayut-vnimaniya).

            Moscow has downplayed the threat and there appears to be no stomach for the reintroduction of a mask requirement or other restrictions. Such things were very unpopular even during the pandemic, and central government officials aren’t prepared to anger the population by taking similar steps now.

            More seriously, Moscow has gotten out of the business of purchasing vaccines and then distributing them to the regions. Instead, the regions are now on their own. Some regions have enough vaccine but others don’t, a situation that may mean that there will be new hotspots with dramatic increases in the infection rate in the near term.

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