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Russia suffers record rise in coronavirus cases

Russia said on Saturday its death toll from the novel coronavirus had risen to 313, an overnight increase of 40, as it posted a new record daily jump in new cases.

The authorities reported 4,785 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 36,793.

Moscow, which was the first region in the country to introduce a lockdown, recorded 2,649 new cases, and 21 new deaths, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said.

The city’s mayor said that he had enough beds for two weeks but could not make predictions beyond this – even though Vladimir Putin on Friday unveiled a new 800-bed Covid-19 hospital built in a record 36 days. 

Russia said on Saturday its death toll from the novel coronavirus had risen to 313, an overnight increase of 40, as it posted a new record daily jump in new cases

‘The primary task for us today is to ensure the healthcare system’s margin of endurance for the foreseeable perspective,’ said mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

‘For now, this has been accomplished. Today we can see that we certainly have additional capacities for this week and the next one.

He told Rossiya-1 television channel: ‘I’m not going to make any predictions to the end.

‘But, at least in the near future that we can foresee, we are convinced that the healthcare system will cope with the tasks that it is facing.’

On Saturday he extended temporary lockdown restrictions on people’s movements in the city until 1 May.

‘The temporary limitations imposed on April 13 this year are extended until May 1, 2020,’ he said.

And he ordered free medications for those suffering from coronavirus.

Sobyanin also denied a claim by a leading virologist that Moscow – where 127 deaths are so far recorded – was heading to become the next New York, which has seen more than 235,000 cases and 17,131 deaths.  

‘The morbidity in the city is growing, but not exponentially and far from the worst-case scenario, as we see it, say, in New York, which is very similar to Moscow in terms of population size and structure,’ said the mayor.

The authorities reported 4,785 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 36,793

The authorities reported 4,785 new cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 36,793

Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that he had enough beds for two weeks but could not make predictions beyond this

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that he had enough beds for two weeks but could not make predictions beyond this

This contradicts Professor Sergei Netesov, a virologist and former head of Vector laboratory which is at the forefront of Russian testing and efforts to produce a vaccine, who warned Moscow can expect ‘the same picture (as New York)’.

He stressed: ‘I very much suspect this although I don’t want it [to happen].’  

Coronavirus infections in Russia began rising sharply this month, although it had reported far fewer infections than many western European countries in the outbreak’s early stages.

On Friday, president Putin unveiled via video link a coronavirus hospital built from scratch on a greenfield site in 36 days.

The mammoth emergency £92 million complex, near Moscow, will initially hold 800 patients – 300 more than originally announced – and it comes amid fears of the city’s capacity being overrun.

Putin opened the hospital – and another 60-bed army-constructed facility in Nizhny Novgorod, western Russia – by video-link.

This is despite the fact that Vladimir Putin on Friday unveiled a new 800-bed Covid-19 hospital near Moscow, which was built in a record 36 days

This is despite the fact that Vladimir Putin on Friday unveiled a new 800-bed Covid-19 hospital near Moscow, which was built in a record 36 days

It will initially hold 800 patients - 300 more than originally announced - and it comes amid fears of the city's capacity being overrun

It will initially hold 800 patients – 300 more than originally announced – and it comes amid fears of the city’s capacity being overrun

Like in many countries, health authorities in Russia are not carrying out mass testing

Like in many countries, health authorities in Russia are not carrying out mass testing

‘Both centres were created from scratch over a very short time, just several weeks, which is unprecedented,’ he said.

‘I want to thank the civilian builders and the military personnel of the Defence Ministry.

‘The centres have been fully staffed. ‘Doctors, nurses and medical personnel are facing a period of hard and intense work.’

Russia is building 16 army hospitals from scratch from the Baltic to the Pacific to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. All will be functional by next month.

Like in many countries, health authorities in Russia are not carrying out mass testing.

Private testing results in Moscow among people without symptoms suggest the virus has penetrated more deeply into its population than official data shows.  

After the latest coronavirus figures were released, Mr Putin ordered the government to provide daily forecasts of the virus’s spread. 

The government must ‘provide a short-term prognosis of the number of citizens who may contract the new infectious disease (COVID-19)’ and report its estimates on a daily basis, according to an order published on the Kremlin’s website. 

Putin opened the hospital - and another 60-bed army-constructed facility in Nizhny Novgorod - by video-link

Putin opened the hospital – and another 60-bed army-constructed facility in Nizhny Novgorod – by video-link 

Pictured: The military hospital in Nizhny Novgorod, western Russia, which was also opened by Mr Putin on Friday

Pictured: The military hospital in Nizhny Novgorod, western Russia, which was also opened by Mr Putin on Friday

Initially declared on March 30, the lockdown regime banned residents from leaving their homes unless they were going to buy food or medicines, get urgent medical treatment or walk the dog.

The authorities also introduced a travel permit system effective from April 15, and Sobyanin said on Saturday the authorities would use traffic cameras to catch drivers travelling without passes.

Authorities and clerics have urged Christians to stay home during the Orthodox Easter weekend, although a senior cleric urged police on Saturday to be lenient on those who still try to make it to their church.

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