An unseasonal surge Moscow to open more COVID-19 hospitals amid ‘unexpected’ spike in cases

Artyom Geodakyan / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

On June 9, Moscow recorded an increased number of coronavirus cases for the fourth day running. This spike in infections, which government sources tell Meduza was “unexpected,” has led the city authorities to announce increased controls over sanitary measures, as well as plans to open several more COVID-19 hospitals in the coming days. That said, the Russian Health Ministry maintains that the recent jump in cases can’t be considered “third wave.” In addition, the Moscow authorities have no plans to reintroduce lockdown measures, despite the fact that the city’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 has all but come to a standstill. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases registered in Moscow has gone up for the fourth day in a row. According to official data, on the morning of June 9, the Russian capital recorded 4,124 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. The number of related hospitalizations has also increased, with 1,539 coronavirus patients admitted to Moscow hospitals over the course of the last day. 

Also on June 9, the city authorities announced increased controls to ensure the wearing of masks and gloves in public places and the observance of sanitary regulations within enterprises and organizations.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin also announced an increase in the number of hospital beds reserved for treating coronavirus patients. “In the coming days we are opening several more hospitals,” Sobyanin said, as quoted by Interfax. According to Meduza’s sources in Moscow City Hall, two hospitals with beds reserved for COVID-19 patients will be put back into operation by the end of the week. In turn, Moscow’s operational headquarters for combating the coronavirus hinted at the possibility of more than two coronavirus hospitals being opened in the coming days, but didn’t specify how many exactly.

Sources from both the mayor’s office and the coronavirus headquarters said that the Moscow authorities weren’t expecting an uptick in coronavirus cases in early June. It was assumed that cases would surge seasonally — in other words, officials weren’t anticipating another spike until the fall. According to a Meduza source in the city’s coronavirus headquarters, two factors may have triggered the increase in infections: the summer holiday season and the last day of school, which took place on May 25.

Mayor Sergey Sobyanin recently complained about the slow pace of vaccination in Moscow, but Meduza’s sources didn’t mention this as a contributing factor. As Meduza reported on May 20, vaccination in Moscow has basically ground to a halt. At the current pace of vaccination, it will take several years for Moscow to achieve the goal set by the Russian authorities — having 60 percent of the adult population immunized by the fall.

At the same time, the Russian Health Ministry insists that the increased number of coronavirus cases in Moscow doesn’t constitute a “third wave” of infections and instead chalks it up to the “volatility” of the spread of COVID-19. 

Despite the spike in new coronavirus cases, the Moscow authorities aren’t yet planning to introduce another lockdown in the city, Sobyanin said. This was also confirmed by Meduza’s sources in the city’s coronavirus headquarters and the Moscow Mayor’s Office.

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