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Moscow launches new restrictions after Russia’s COVID-19 deaths hit record highExBulletin




A man wearing a face mask speaks on his phone in downtown Moscow on Wednesday.

Yuri Kadobnov / AFP through Getty Images

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Yuri Kadobnov / AFP through Getty Images

A man wearing a face mask speaks on his phone in downtown Moscow on Wednesday.

Yuri Kadobnov / AFP through Getty Images

MOSCOW The Russian capital entered a 10-day partial blockade on Thursday as the rest of Russia prepared for a series of COVID-19 restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of a virus that has consistently set and restored records over the past month. for daily deaths. and infections.

On Thursday, the government working group on the coronavirus reported the grim last moment, a record 40,096 infections and 1,159 deaths in the last 24 hours alone.

The Kremlin openly blames the unprecedented growing persistent reluctance of Russians to vaccinate. Despite Russia’s extensive access to Sputnik V for most of this year, just over a third of the country is fully vaccinated.

“These are intelligent people with a good education. I can not understand what is happening,” said a clearly outraged president Vladimir Putin, commenting on the growing crisis last week. “We have a reliable and effective vaccine. I want to emphasize again, there are only two choices: to get sick or to be vaccinated.”

Russian officials have recorded more than 235,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the highest number in Europe, although independent analysts have cited evidence suggesting the true number can be much higher.

However, it is an increase in the delta-type virus that has prompted authorities to reintroduce restrictions, following repeated assurances that the pandemic was under control.

With health officials warning that existing COVID wards were close to capacity, Putin announced last week a nationwide “non-working week” from October 30 to November 7. He has delegated authority to regional governors to impose additional restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

The result has been a series of wavy measures across the country.

In Stavropol, southern Russia, police set up checkpoints demanding that Russians seeking last-minute vacations provide proof of entry vaccination.

In Khakassia, a republic in eastern Siberia, authorities imposed a curfew at 22:00 and banned all public transport.

“There’s not much to do here overnight anyway,” says Alexei Kirichenko, a freelance journalist in the main Abakan city of Khakassia. “But the same people who complain about buses not working now are the same people who never wore masks in the beginning. Of course no one likes restrictions.”

The last call to a bar in Moscow on Wednesday night. The city has shut down most of the service industry businesses amid a record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths.

Charles Maynes / NPR

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Charles Maynes / NPR

Moscow is closed mainly for business

In Moscow, a network of new blockade measures brought an abrupt end to a sense of normalcy that had taken over the capital in recent months.

By order of Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, unvaccinated seniors are required to stay home for the next four months. Schools are closed. The offices have sent the workers home. The subway stays mostly empty.

Meanwhile, city restaurants, bars, cafes, lounges, gyms, cinemas and for the few reasons that car repair shops can understand are closed to customers since midnight on Wednesday.

Around the city, there is a sense that small businesses are taking the brunt of the government’s stalemate, as they did in June 2020 when the Kremlin ordered the closure of businesses, providing little in the way of aid funds being offered to larger state-owned companies. Many small shops were permanently closed.

“If they keep us locked up for months like the last blockade, we’re done,” says Anna Alekseeva, 25, who works at one of the many small craft beer bars that have appeared in Moscow in recent years. “This is not Europe or America. The government here is not interested in small business at all.”

But theaters and museums are still open

Moscow theaters and museums remain among the few public spaces still open to visitors, albeit at 50% capacity and with evidence of vaccination.

This includes “Life with Viruses”, a new exhibition at the National Economy Park Achievements Exhibition, known as the VDNKh, in Moscow. The exhibition is dedicated to the history of interaction between humans, viruses and medicine.

Visitors take a tour of the “Life with Viruses” exhibition in Moscow. As of Thursday, the museum is one of the few public spaces available for vaccinated Russians.

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Charles Maynes / NPR

A mannequin of a doctor holding a beak as part of his medieval costume ‘ Black death the era greets visitors. Large patterns of spores, bacteria and bacilli hover from the ceiling. An interactive video game called “Pandemic” allows players to try to save a metropolis from massive infection. In the corner, a coronavirus hologram with its already famous rivets pulsates against the wall.

“I look at it and meditate,” says curator Sergei Rikov of the Moscow Polytechnic Institute as he offers a recent tour. “We do not want to scare anyone. Our goal is to inform. The more we understand what we are dealing with, the more chances we have of finding ways to protect ourselves.”

Rikov notes that the exhibition has proved popular with once-skeptical government health officials seeking to resume Russia’s vaccination efforts.

The museum plans to take an “easy version” on its way to cities across the country starting this winter.

“It’s a more effective way to educate people so they can learn and share what they know than a big TV propaganda campaign across the country,” he says.

Propaganda and disbelief feed the problem

Sergei Rikov, curator of the “Life with Viruses” exhibition in Moscow, poses in front of a coronavirus model. Rikov argues that the exhibition could play a role in educating Russians about the coronavirus and the need to vaccinate.

Charles Maynes / NPR

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Charles Maynes / NPR

Rikov and others hoping to educate Russians about the pandemic are likely to face a tough battle. Health experts say Russia’s current problems with COVID are at least in part due to the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. The conspiratorial state-run media has fed the Russians a steady diet of distrust of vaccines, science, and the truth itself.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the media was saying that the virus was not so scary or that Western vaccines were dangerous,” said Georgii Bazykin, a biologist at the Skolkovo Institute in Moscow who has studied the epidemiology of coronavirus in Russia. .

“Well, people are not dumb. If they hear that Pfizer or Moderna are bad, then it makes sense that our Sputnik [vaccine] it is also bad. “It was a cruel joke with our vaccination efforts,” he said.

“There is so much information these days that we no longer know what to think. Is it a conspiracy or not?” says Elena, a social worker in Moscow, who declined to give her last name, saying she was not authorized to speak to the press. “I just want life to return to normal.”

But not everyone sees the government’s vaccination efforts so far as a failure.

“A third of Russians who get vaccinated is not a bad result at all,” said Mikhail Parfeonov, a father of two who visited Moscow from Kirov in central Russia. “What can I say? People do not trust the government. It’s Russia. Get used to it.”




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