Russia gradually eases lockdown as coronavirus cases leap to fourth highest in world

Joe Gamp
·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read

Russia has announced it will ease lockdown restrictions despite recording the fourth highest number of coronavirus cases in the world on Monday.

The country has overtaken Italy after a record daily rise of 11,656 new cases in just 24 hours.

Monday’s rise sees Russia’s overall number of confirmed cases surge to 221,344 – behind the US (1,329,799 cases), Spain (224,350) and the UK (224,327).

More than half of all cases and deaths in Russia to date have occurred in Moscow, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, with 6,169 of the new infections reported in the region alone.

The new figures were released just hours before president Vladimir Putin announced a gradual easing lockdown restrictions during a televised address to the nation.

 Medical workers wearing protective suits stand next to an Ambulance at the entrance to Pokrovksaya Hospital in Vasilyevsky island where patients with COVID-19 are treated. At least 93 558 confirmed cases and 867 death by the corona virus disease have been recorded in Russia. (Photo by Sergei Mikhailichenko / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Russia's infections jumped by more than 11,000 cases in just 24 hours. (AP)

The country's coronavirus response centre also reported 94 new deaths, taking the overall death toll to 2,009 people, while the official death toll remains lower than in many countries, a point that many critics of Russia have queried.

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Russian officials attribute the rising and large number of cases to a massive testing programme they say has seen over 5.6 million tests conducted.

Putin announced restrictions in the country would be eased from Tuesday, according to region - with badly affected areas such as Moscow extending its current rules to 31 May.

 A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution, crosses the street during the covid 19 pandemic. Russian President, Vladimir Putin extends off-work days till 11 May as at least 93 558 confirmed cases and 867 death by the corona virus disease have been recorded in Russia. (Photo by Sergei Mikhailichenko / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Russian officials say around 5.6 million people have been tested for coronavirus. (AP)

Putin unveiled new support measures for businesses and for families with children who have seen their livelihoods devastated, amid figures showing unemployment levels had rocketed by 1.4 million people in one month.

Mass public events would still be banned, said Putin, and Russians aged 65 or over asked to stay at home, even as certain sectors of the bruised economy such as construction and agriculture were allowed to restart work.

The Russian leader said in a televised address: "All the (coronavirus-related) measures we have taken allow us to move to the next step in the fight against the epidemic and start a phased lifting of the lockdown restrictions.”

He added exercise would need to be done carefully and in full compliance with new higher safety standards.

"We must not allow a breakdown, a rollback, a new wave of the epidemic and an increase in serious complications. Once again, there will be no rapid lifting of the restrictions. It will take considerable time," he continued.

The country marked the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War at the weekend in a ceremony devoid of its usual military parade and pomp.

In this photo taken on Monday, May 11, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech while congratulating graduates of Russian military academies and universities on the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in WWI at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
The figures came hours before president Vladimir Putin is due to review the country's lockdown restrictions on Monday. (AP)

In neighbouring Belarus, however, the ceremonies went ahead in full, with tens of thousands of people ignoring the social distancing adopted by many of the world’s nations.

Putin led commemorations and laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin walls in Moscow, before giving a short address honouring the valour and suffering of the Soviet army during the war.

The ceremony was Putin’s first public appearance in about a month.

Municipal employees, wearing special suits to protect against coronavirus, disinfect and clean a yard in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, April 18, 2020. Authorities in the Russian capital have ordered most Muscovites who don't work in vital industries to stay home in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Only visits to nearby stores and pharmacies are allowed, and the lockdown has spurred demand for delivery services. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP)
Municipal employees, wearing special suits to protect against coronavirus, disinfect and clean a yard in Moscow. (AP)

In his speech, the Russian leader did not mention the virus or how its spread had blocked the observances that were to be a prestige project for him, but promised that full commemorations would take place.

“We will, as usual, widely and solemnly mark the anniversary date, do it with dignity, as our duty to those who have suffered, achieved and accomplished the victory tells us,” he said.

“There will be our main parade on Red Square, and the national march of the Immortal Regiment – the march of our grateful memory and inextricable, vital, living communication between generations.”

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