Moscow restricts transport for students and elderly as COVID-19 cases jump
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's daily tally of new coronavirus cases rose to its highest since May 11 on Tuesday, prompting Moscow to take measures to keep students and the elderly off the city's sprawling public transport network.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the measures were needed to keep students and the elderly at home as the capital recorded 4,082 new infections on Tuesday.
"Every day the situation with the coronavirus is becoming more difficult and dramatic," Sobyanin wrote on his website, adding that more than 1,000 people had been hospitalized with coronavirus in the city on Tuesday.
Sobyanin said students' cards allowing them to travel on public transport in Moscow at a discount would be temporarily cancelled on Friday until the end of a two-week school holiday.
Muscovites over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses will be stripped of passes that allow them to travel across the city for free from Oct. 9 until Oct.28, Sobyanin added.
Sobyanin said the move was meant to protect Moscow's senior population, which he said accounted for more than a quarter of the new coronavirus infections.
The city of nearly 13 million has already opened two temporary hospitals to tackle the spike in cases and ordered businesses to have at least 30% of their staff working remotely.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday he was unaware of plans to impose a strict lockdown despite the rapidly growing number of cases.
Russia's official coronavirus task force reported 11,615 new infections nationwide on Tuesday and said 188 people had died overnight, pushing the official death toll to 21,663.
With 1,237,504 infections since the start of the pandemic, Russia has the world's fourth highest number of cases.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood)