Russia tightens measures to contain the coronavirus in its territory. President Vladimir Putin has prescribed nine days of vacation for the Russians, a “quasi-quarantine” imposed due to the increase in cases and suspicions about the true scope of COVID-19 in the country.
A MORE SERIOUS TONE BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS
Russia has been taking gradual measures to prevent further expansion of the coronavirus since the end of January – when it closed the border with China – but it has been in recent days, following the example of the restrictions decreed by the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobianin, in those that the Government has intoned a more serious tone to protect the almost 147 million inhabitants of the country.
It was not until this Thursday, after over five thousand cases that Putin felt the need to address the nation.
He did so after visiting a hospital in Moscow that treats COVID-19 patients on Wednesday and after hearing from the chief doctor and Sobianin, the head of the task force to fight the spread of the coronavirus, how serious is the situation and that the actual number of cases could be “much higher”.
In a country that still remembers when the USSR authorities silenced the Chernobyl catastrophe for months, suspicions grew as the weeks progressed in the mouth of some experts and members of the opposition, such as the doctor Anastasía Vasílieva, leader of the Alianza de Médicos union and close to the opposition leader Alexéi Navalni.
The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, told the Interfax agency today, however, that the agency has no reason to believe that Russia is not declaring all the cases of which it is aware. or that you are carrying out an insufficient number of tests.
In Russia, “the epidemic is still in an ascending phase,” and the timing of its peak cannot be predicted, he said, but “apparently” the country is not heading to the “Italian stage,” he said.
MANDATORY VACATION FROM SATURDAY
The mandatory vacation ordered by Putin, who recently said the situation was generally under control, will begin this Saturday and last until Sunday, April 5.
The president has expressed his hope that these nine days will serve to reduce the upward curve of cases in the country: today 840, 182 more than on Wednesday, the largest increase so far, and two deaths.
The president has also ordered the Army to verify its state of readiness to fight the coronavirus, and this Thursday the Ministry of Defense announced the construction of 16 modular hospitals before May 15 in the country.
Putin, who has recommended Russians to stay at home, especially those over 65 and people with chronic illnesses (in Moscow it is mandatory as of today for 1.9 million citizens of this population segment), trusted that Russia It will come out of this crisis in two or three months.
For the moment, there will be no declaration of a state of emergency in Russia, because in the country “de facto there is no epidemic,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said today.
Vujnovic said in turn that, for now, he does not see confinement necessary, but that if the situation worsens, the authorities will surely take this step, according to the TASS agency.
A “QUASI QUARANTINE”
In reality, Putin’s ordered vacation is the closest thing to a “quasi quarantine,” because while citizens may theoretically leave their homes, in practice they will have little where to turn.
The Government recommended today to the Russian regions to temporarily suspend leisure events, entertainment, shows, cultural and physical education events, sports, exhibitions and educational activities, among others.
Nor will Russians be able to relax in cinemas, discos or go to children’s play centers with their children.
In Moscow, a city with almost 13 million inhabitants, for some days now there has been less presence of citizens on the streets. Transit on the subway has been reduced by between 40% and 50%, Sobianin said Thursday, which means that the same percentage of people “are in quarantine.”
“The days off are not holidays, but an important measure to prevent COVID-19,” the mayor said Thursday, tightening restrictions on the nine non-working days decreed by Putin, hoping to “maximize” the effect. of “this opportunity”.
Thus, restaurants, cafes, bars, canteens and other catering establishments will suspend their work in Moscow, with the exception of home delivery services.
Retail establishments will also be closed, with the exception of pharmacies and food stores and certain shops that sell other items, as well as the most important parks in the city, hairdressers, saunas, beauty salons, among other places.
Medical, rehabilitation, elderly and needy services, transport, banking and insurance, community and funeral services, among other essential services, will continue to operate for Muscovites.
Sobianin also asked believers to refrain from visiting religious places, and urged Russians from other regions not to travel to the capital for the next few days.
Previously, the mayor had recommended teleworking and closed schools, universities, museums, cinemas, libraries, leisure and entertainment centers, gyms and discotheques.
Moscow is, with 546 cases of COVID-19 as of today, the most affected by the coronavirus.
“These measures are necessary and temporary. The harder and more effective they are, the less they will last and then this period (of restrictions) will be shorter,” Putin summarized the situation today.