Russia reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day Sunday, as the virus rapidly spreads in the country, which is fast becoming one of the global epicenters of Covid-19.
There were 10,633 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, some 1,000 more than were reported on Saturday, according to Worldometers data.
A total of 134,687 people are now confirmed to have had coronavirus in Russia, making it the seventh most-infected country on the planet, with significantly more infections than early hotspots for the virus, such as China and Iran. More than half of all cases in Russia have been reported in the capital, Moscow.
“The daily increase in cases has relatively stabilized but this mustn’t calm us down, the situation is still very serious,” Putin said, according to CNN.
“The peak is not behind us, we are about to face a new and gruelling phase of the pandemic… the deadly threat of the virus remains.”
In the early phases of the pandemic, Russia appeared to have the virus under control, but the situation has escalated drastically in recent weeks amid a chaotic response from authorities in the country.
As an illustration of how quickly the virus has evolved in Russia, on April 1 it had 2,777 confirmed cases, while at the same time the US had some 220,000. On Sunday May 3, the US has 1.16 million total cases, compared to Russia’s 134,000. Russia now has around 11% of the number of US cases.
The picture in Russia’s healthcare system is bleak.
Business Insider’s Sophia Ankel reported in late April that ambulances in Moscow were forced to queue for many hours to drop patients off at hospitals, such is the volume of new cases of the virus. One ambulance driver said that he waited up to 15 hours to get to the hospital, The Moscow Times reported.
Doctors have also complained of conditions for medical workers, and even said that the government is covering up the true extent of the crisis, Ankel reported.
Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of Russia’s Alliance of Doctors trade union, said in a video that authorities were referring to coronavirus cases as an ordinary pneumonia, which has caused confusion.
Vasilyeva also said that authorities are refusing to equip medical staff properly or give them accurate information about the virus.
“While the whole world is facing an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Russia is facing an outbreak of community-acquired pneumonia,” Vasilyeva said. “And as usual, we’re facing the lie of the authorities.”
Russian authorities have denied her claims.
Meanwhile, a doctor who complained about shortages of protective equipment plunged from a hospital window, on Saturday night.
Alexander Shulepov, 37, suffered life-threatening injuries in the fall, according to the Mail Online. He had previously attracted the authorities attention by taking part in a video that claimed he was ordered to work despite testing positive for Covid-19. He and colleagues also complained about the lack of PPE in the Vorenezh, a city in southwest Russia.
Two other doctors have died after falling from hospital windows during Russia’s coronavirus pandemic.