New coronavirus cases are spiking in 40% of Russian regions, Russia’s top public health official said Monday amid reports of hospital bed, staff and drug shortages hitting far-flung areas outside Moscow.
Infections are on the decline in only two regions, Anna Popova, who heads Russia’s consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said during a Covid-19 government task force video conference broadcast live on state television.
The number of new coronavirus cases is increasing in 33 out of 85 Russian regions, Popova said. Russia’s chief sanitary doctor added that 31 regions are not seeing any changes, while infections are slowing down in 19 regions.
The data comes as record numbers of Russians have been infected and killed by Covid-19 over the past month after a summer lull, as authorities continue to rule out a nationwide lockdown.
Cases nearly quadrupled from around 5,000 per day in early September to more than 18,000 per day in the past three days. Deaths over the same period rose from an average of around 100 per day to more than 300 per day last week.
Adjusted for population, Russia went from 3.8 cases per 100,000 people on Sept. 1 to 12 cases per 100,000 as of Monday, Popova said. Some Russian regions are seeing as many as 79 new coronavirus infections per 100,000 people per day, she added.
While Moscow’s mayor said the number of new cases had begun to decline in the capital last week, other cities including St. Petersburg and the westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad saw their highest caseloads since the spring outbreak. The Moscow region also doubled Covid-19 hospitalizations over the past month.
Behind the figures, grim videos have surfaced showing bodies wrapped in black bags filling hospitals in Siberia, as well as elderly patients dying after being refused hospitalization or oxygen shortages in southern Russia. Hospital staff in the Kurgan region called for the Russian military to deploy army medics, saying their health system had collapsed.
Russia confirmed 18,257 new coronavirus cases and 238 additional deaths Monday, pushing the total caseload to 1,655,038 and 28,473 deaths.
New Covid-19 cases are expected to peak at up to 22,000 per day in January, infectious disease specialist Yevgeny Timakov told state-run RIA Novosti news agency.