MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Thursday reported a record one-day rise in cases of novel coronavirus, pushing the official tally to more than 10,000, a day after President Vladimir Putin said the coming weeks would prove decisive in the fight against the virus.
The number of cases jumped by 1,459 and 13 more people died, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said on its website. That brings the overall death toll to 76.
Moscow, the worst-affected region, and many other regions are in their second week of a partial lockdown. Residents have been told to stay at home unless they need to make essential trips to buy food or access urgent medical care.
Russia recorded far fewer cases of the new coronavirus than many Western European countries in the early outbreak stages. But the number of cases began to rise sharply this month and the virus has now spread well beyond Moscow, the epicentre.
Russian officials until late last month were saying that the situation was under control and that there was no epidemic. Their tone changed however after Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, who has taken a prominent role in the crisis, cast doubt on the veracity of official figures and said the real situation was much worse than it looked.
Putin, 67, has told Russia’s regional governors to tailor their response measures to meet local needs. Some anti-Kremlin politicians have criticised him for taking what they say has been too low profile a role in the battle to contain and slow the spread of the virus.
The Kremlin has rejected those assertions however, saying the size of Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, means it makes sense to give regional leaders considerable leeway when deciding which measures are the most appropriate.
Putin made his third television appearance dedicated to the crisis on Wednesday, rolling out economic measures to help businesses hit by the lockdown.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn)