The number of cases of Covid-19 reported in Russia has continued to grow rapidly, with the mayor of Moscow warning hospitals may soon be overrun by the virus.
The nation recorded 9,623 new cases on Saturday – the second highest such figure worldwide across the 24 hour period – with the majority recorded in the Russian capital.
Sergei Sobyanin, the city’s mayor, issued an appeal to Muscovites to continue to self-isolate, adding that the number of critically ill patients is rising but has not yet reached the pace of worst-case scenario projections.
“However, it is obvious that the threat is on the rise,” he said in his blog.
While initially seeming to have escaped the worst of the virus, the number of cases in Russia has continued to grow across the last month – reaching a total of 124,054.
The death toll meanwhile has risen to 1,222 with 57 deaths since Friday, however while fatalities remain low compared to counterparts in Europe and North America, the curve of infections in the country is yet to plateau.
The sparsely populated yet vast nation has been subject to partial lockdowns particularly focussed on areas with dense populations since the end of March. In Moscow, people who have not obtained a special permit that allows free movement for work or other purposes are only able to leave their homes to shop, walk their dogs and dispose of rubbish.
Mr Sobyanin told Russian media authorities may cut the number of digital permits issued for travel across the city if the situation worsens.
The measures are currently due to continue until past 11 May, when the country finishes celebrating its Labour Day and Victory Day holidays.
It comes as the virus continues to strike at the upper echelons of Russian society – including those close to Mr Putin, who is running the country from a state of isolation.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the second-most senior official in the country after Mr Putin, has temporarily stepped down from his role to recover after contracting the virus. First deputy prime minister Andrei Belousov is currently serving in his stead.
And on Friday construction minister Vladimir Yakushev, a member of the Russian cabinet, announced he had been diagnosed with the virus and that he would be treated in hospital.
Dmitry Volkov, one of his deputies, has also tested positive, the ministry said.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
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