Coronavirus Cases in Russia Top 145,000

Police officers walk across an empty Red Square in Moscow on March 31. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia registered a near record in new daily coronavirus cases on Monday as total infections surpassed 145,000, cementing its position as the top reporter of new cases in Europe.

Health officials reported 10,581 new infections in the past 24 hours, 52 less than Sunday’s record, bringing Russia’s total to 145,268 cases and 1,356 deaths. 

Russia is emerging as a new hotspot for the coronavirus as many countries in Western Europe begin steps to ease lockdown measures after their rates of new infections and deaths dropped.

Despite the sharp rise in cases, Russia’s official fatality rate has remained low in comparison to countries including Italy, Spain and the United States.

Officials credit quick moves to close the country’s borders, widespread testing and tracking of infections, but critics have cast doubts on the numbers.

Authorities have extended a nonworking quarantine period until May 11 but have indicated they could then gradually lift confinement measures which vary from region to region.

Moscow has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic in Russia, with around half the total coronavirus cases. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has warned that “the threat is apparently on the rise” and urged residents to respect confinement rules and antivirus measures over the May holidays.

Russia observes several public holidays in early May, including for Victory Day on May 9 to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany.

President Vladimir Putin had planned a major celebration for this year’s 75th anniversary, with world leaders in attendance as thousands of troops and tanks were to parade through Red Square.

The coronavirus forced him to cancel the parade and the day will now be marked with military aircraft flying over major cities.

Fighter jets roared over Moscow on Monday as they rehearsed for the event.

© Agence France-Presse

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