PortandTerminal.com, May 3, 2020
Russia’s capital, home to 12 million, teetering on the edge as the coronavirus burns through city | Senior government officials falling ill | Government promotes conspiracy theory blaming Bill Gates
MOSCOW – Russia reported a record 10,633 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total to 130,000, mostly in the capital Moscow, where the mayor threatened to cut the number of digital travel permits.
More than 64% of the new infections were between Moscow and the Moscow region. Moscow alone has recorded 5,948 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the capital’s total to 68,606.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said about two per cent of Moscow residents — or more than 250,000 people — have the coronavirus.
The death toll nationwide rose to 1,280.
Russia has been in partial lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, since the end of March. In Moscow, people who have not obtained a special permit for free movement, are only able to leave their homes to shop, walk their dogs and dispose of garbage.
Reuters is reporting that President Vladimir Putin has ordered the restrictive measures, called non-working days, to continue until May 11 inclusive, when the country finishes celebrating the Labour Day and Victory Day holidays.
Despite a relatively low number of cases and deaths compared to the United States, Italy and Spain, which have been hit hardest by the disease, Russia’s infection curve has not reached a plateau.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin issued an appeal on Saturday to Muscovites to continue to self-isolate. He said the number of critically ill patients is rising, but not as steeply worst-case scenario projections.
“However, it is obvious that the threat is on the rise,” he said in his blog.
Sobyanin told Rossiya-1 TV station that the Moscow authorities may cut the number of digital permits issued for travel across the city if the situation worsens.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the second-most senior official in the country after Putin, told the president on Thursday that he had tested positive for coronavirus and that he was temporarily stepping down to recover. He has since been hospitalized.
First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov is now serving as acting prime minister in his absence.
On Friday, another member of the Russian cabinet, Construction Minister Vladimir Yakushev, announced he had been diagnosed with the virus and that he would be treated in hospital. Dmitry Volkov, one of his deputies, also tested positive, the ministry said.
State promoting Bill Gates conspiracy theory
Desperate to find an external scape-goat to blame the worsening and bungled situation on, Russia state media has started amplifying conspiracy theories that Bill Gates is to blame for the pandemic.
A Russian TV news show referred to a TED Talk that Gates gave in 2015 in which he warned about the dangers of a coming pandemic, suggesting that he knew about the coronavirus in advance. It also insinuated that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would profit from the vaccine.
Gates it should be noted, has pledged $250 million to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
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