Customers eat in a restaurant at Patriarshiye Prudy, a hip restaurant and inn district in Moscow, Russia. AP
It's Friday night in Moscow, and popular inns and restaurants in the city centre are packed. No one except the staff is wearing a mask or bothers to keep their distance. There is little indication at all that Russia is being swept by a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
"I believe that everyone will have the disease eventually,” says Dr Alexandra Yerofeyeva, an internal medicine specialist at an insurance company, while sipping a cocktail at The Bix bar in Moscow. She adds cheerfully: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
The outbreak in Russia this month is breaking the records set in the spring, when a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus was put in place. But, as governments across Europe move to reimpose restrictions to counter rising cases, authorities in Russia are resisting shutting down businesses again. Some regions have closed nightclubs or limited the hours of inns and restaurants, but few measures have been implemented in Moscow, which is once again the epicenter of the surge.
On Friday, Russian authorities reported over 15,000 new infections, the highest daily spike so far in the pandemic. Moscow — with less than 10% of the population — accounts for up to 30% of new infections each day. The health minister says 90% of hospital beds for coronavirus patients have been filled. Three times this week, Russia's daily death toll exceeded the spring record of 232.
Even these soaring virus tolls are likely undercounts; experts have cautioned that official figures around the world understate the true toll, but critics have taken particular issue with Russia's death tolls, alleging authorities might be playing down the scale of the outbreak.
Right now, situation is "difficult” but "no restrictive measures for the economy are required,” Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
The spring lockdown hurt the country’s already weakened economy and compounded Russians’ frustration with plummeting incomes and worsening living conditions, driving Putin’s approval rating to a historic low of 59% in April, according to the Levada Center, Russia's top independent pollster. Analysts say his government doesn't want to return to those dark days.
Customers sit outside a restaurant at Patriarshiye Prudy, a hip restaurant and inn district in Moscow, Russia. AP
"They know that people have just come to the end of their tolerance of the lockdown measures that would be hugely unpopular if they got imposed again,” said Judy Twigg, a professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in global health.
In fact, Putin's government appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Russian officials announced this week that air traffic would resume with three more countries. All international air traffic was stopped in the spring.
The announcement reminded people "about the necessity to take care of their health as much as possible” — a reflection of Russian authorities' new effort to shift much of the responsibility for how the outbreak unfolds onto the people.
Moscow has taken the necessary measures, "but without the people responding to these measures, helping themselves and the people around them, nothing will work,” warned Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of the Russian capital of 12.7 million.
Russia on Monday reported 2,558 new cases of the novel coronavirus, a record daily rise, bringing its overall nationwide tally to 18,328. Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said that 148 people diagnosed with the virus have died so far, an overnight rise of 18.
A record one-day rise of 1,459 new cases of coronavirus, pushing its national case total to 10,131. The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 13 to 76, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said.
More than 3.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 250,386 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
The witness added the suspect disappeared after being injured and after having bleeding in the head, and then he was seen heading towards the victim with a knife.
Abu Ghazeen noted that those vehicles give a grace period for the public to park in the public parking for a period of 10 minutes without paying fees.
"This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people," said Obaid Al Hathboor, director of Dubai's Transport Security Department.
The suspect offered Dhs50,000, a Rolex watch, a monthly salary of Dhs20,000, and a Mercedes car as a bribe to a policeman so that he could escape from the police station where he was held on charges related to drug trafficking.