Moscow’s mayor has sounded the alarm over a spike in COVID-19 cases as both the Russian capital and the rest of the country reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections since winter.
At the national level, 12,505 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, the highest number since late February, taking the national tally to 5,180,454 since the pandemic began.
Out of that total, 5,853 new cases were reported in Moscow, a record for the capital since mid-January, prompting Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to say COVID-19 was becoming more difficult to treat.
“We expected that the spring pandemic peak would fall on April-May just like last year,” Sobyanin said in televised remarks on June 11.
“But now we’re seeing that it has shifted toward June-July,” he said.
Sobyanin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, estimated that around half of Moscow’s residents had by now some level of immunity against the virus.
“At the same time we are seeing just how aggressive COVID-19 is,” he said, stressing that it was becoming more difficult to treat.
“Quite a lot of Muscovites are in intensive care on ventilators,” he said. “The danger is real.”
More than 125,000 coronavirus deaths have been registered by authorities since the start of the pandemic but some experts say officials vastly underreport fatalities.
The federal statistics agency, Rosstat, has kept a separate toll and has said that Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to COVID-19 between April 2020 and April 2021.
Bloomberg quoted Rosstat deputy chief Pavel Smelov as saying that the agency will revise upward the number of fatalities last year even more in a report to be released on June 15.
Nearly all virus-related restrictions have been lifted and many Russians are refusing to wear masks on public transport and in other public places.
Russia approved Sputnik V, the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, for use beginning last August, but authorities have struggled to ramp up vaccination efforts.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and Bloomberg