Russia hits record daily rise in COVID-19 cases, Moscow says no need for tough restrictions

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists transport a person on a stretcher outside a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus disease in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists transport a person on a stretcher outside a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus disease in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia hit a record daily high of 15,982 coronavirus infections on Monday as the authorities in the capital Moscow said they would not introduce strict restrictions to contain the rapidly-spreading virus.

Russian authorities also reported 179 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 24,366.

The city of nearly 13 million, which recorded 5,376 new infections on Monday, has already opened temporary hospitals, ordered businesses to have at least 30% of staff working remotely and introduced online learning for secondary school students, among other measures.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said there were signs last week that authorities were getting the coronavirus outbreak under control and that he saw no need to impose tougher restrictions than those currently in place.

"Extreme measures - the introduction of a curfew, a complete ban on movements across the city, a ban on entering and leaving (the city), and the shuttering of nearly all businesses - are absolutely unacceptable and impossible for us," Sobyanin wrote on his website.

"The optimal strategy is to find a middle way between closing the city and dropping restrictions completely."

Sobyanin added, however, that the city could impose further targeted restrictions to curb cases.

Despite Russia's growing number of COVID-19 cases, the authorities have been reluctant to impose harsh restrictions.

The Kremlin has said Russia is better-equipped the handle the pandemic this time around because of improved treatment methods, more hospital beds and a tried and tested system to tackle the virus.

Russia has recorded 1,415,316 infections since the start of the pandemic, making it the country with the world's fourth highest number of cases after the United States, India and Brazil.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)