Russia prepares for pandemic peak
The government is introducing new taxes, the wealthy are buying up medical equipment, experts are in quarantine, and residents are having barbeques.
Statistics from March 29
In the past 24 hours, 220 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Russia, bringing the total number to 1,535.
Eight have died.
Almost all other countries have already been in quarantine for about two weeks and are furiously promoting social isolation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The first restrictions in Russia only went into effect on March 30.
Before now, Moscow strongly recommended that all people over 65 stay home. To tighten this restriction, the government blocked all special public transport cards used by elderly Muscovites.
Starting March 30, Moscow is enforcing self-isolation for everyone – it is forbidden to leave the house without extreme need.
This requirement applies only in Moscow.
On March 30, Russia also closed all borders, including with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
From March 28 to April 5, all students are conducting their studies using distance learning.
All restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues and shops, excluding grocery and drugstores, are also closed, but only in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
And finally, one other measure has been introduced that sparked a large amount of criticism:
Russia announced that March 30 – April 5 will be a non-working week throughout Russia, in order to help people practice safe social distancing and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
But at the same time, the country has not yet declared a quarantine.
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“Introducing a non-working week without mandatory quarantine is a crime”
“If there is no requirement to stay at home, of course, people will go to dachas, to barbecues, and they will infect each other. Either I’m missing something, or there’s one measure that Putin did not talk about – reducing the burden on the pension fund. They’ll die, and you won’t have to pay them retirement anymore.”
This is one of dozens of comments on social networks. And the prediction was right – thousands of Russians barbecued and played games in the parks.
Many people boasted about their great weekend in videos uploaded to social media. Especially popular were the videos shot in Sosnovy Bor in the Podolsky District of Moscow.
Official information states that Moscow is leading in the number of coronavirus cases Russia, with a reported 817 people infected on March 28.
In these videos, people keep close company while relaxing in the park and grilling kebabs. Among them are many retirees and children.
Saint Petersburg newspaper Fontanka published a report ironically called: “What coronavirus? We’re barbecuing and quarantining on the banks of the river.”
Fontanka writes that over the past 24 hours, the number of cases in Saint Petersburg jumped by 11. And on March 28, the first coronavirus death in the city was reported.
It was announced that President Vladimir Putin (67 years old) is working from his residence on the island of Valdai, 400 kilometers from Moscow.
“We urgently need a strict quarantine and a plan to combat the epidemic and the economic crisis – if it’s not too late”
This was the appeal made to the president by 14 leading Russian economists working both in Russia and abroad:
“To quarantine or not to quarantine is the wrong question to be asking. The only question is when it should be introduced – when there are only several hundred patients in the country or when the count reaches thousands, or tens of thousands. If a quarantine is introduced decisively and effectively, and citizens are protected from the economic consequences, the crisis will be short-term and the recovery will be quick.
Otherwise, the economic depression will be deep, and the loss of life will be significant.”
The wealthy are hoarding ventilators
Russian media agencies sparked fiery debates on social networks when they reported that, while the majority are grilling kebabs in nature instead of self-isolation, wealthy Russians are buying up ventilators for personal use.
People were also outraged that in March, when the epidemic was already in full swing and air traffic between high-risk countries was shut down, senior Russian officials took more than 20 flights to Italy, France, the United States and Dubai on private planes.
But most upsetting was the long silence on the part of the authorities about the spread of coronavirus in the country, even after the World Health Organization announced that it had become a pandemic.