St. Petersburg announces new restrictions for minors following spike in coronavirus hospitalizations

Pyotr Kovalev / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

After noting a marked increase in the number of local children hospitalized with COVID-19, the St. Petersburg authorities have announced additional public health restrictions for minors. With the Omicron strain running rampant, Russia has recorded record-breaking daily increases in coronavirus cases over the past few days. In St. Petersburg, an increasing number of classes have been forced to switch to distance learning in order to quarantine schoolchildren with COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The additional restrictions for minors will enter force on January 28 and remain in place until February 13.

On Tuesday, January 25, the St. Petersburg administration announced plans to introduce new public health restrictions for people under the age of 18. The following restrictions are set to be in place from January 28 to February 13: 

Minors will be prohibited from visiting zoos, museums, exhibitions, swimming pools, gyms, theaters, circuses, concerts, cinemas, indoor ice rinks, aquariums, and amusement parks;All extra-curricular learning programs — that is, any private or public programs carried out outside of mainstream schools — will be conducted remotely;In-person artistic, technological, and other clubs, workshops, and studios for minors will be suspended;Fitness and sporting events involving children will be prohibited (with the exception of sporting events included in timetables).

The city made the announcement against the backdrop of an uptick in the number of children admitted to local hospitals with coronavirus infections. The St. Petersburg Health Committee told local newspaper Fontanka that the total number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 grew from 93 during the week of January 3–9, to 126 the week of January 10–16, and 246 the week of January 17–23. 

On January 24, the St, Petersburg Education Committee reported that 1,018 classes from 235 schools (or, five percent of classes in the city) had switched to distance learning in order to quarantine schoolchildren with respiratory and coronavirus infections. This marked more than a 100-fold increase in the number of quarantined classes compared to the week before — as recently as January 17, only nine classes from eight St. Petersburg schools were learning remotely. 

According to Gogov, a project that collates Russia’s coronavirus statistics, St. Petersburg recorded the highest number of cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant among all of the country’s regions on January 25. Russia’s second city confirmed 2,673 Omicron infections, surpassing Moscow, where 2,463 Omicron cases were registered that day. In total, more than 7,000 Omicron infections have been recorded across 73 of Russia’s regions. 

Russia began to experience a renewed increase in coronavirus cases in early January, caused, in part, by the rapid spread of the Omicron strain. The federal anti-coronavirus headquarters has reported record daily increases in cases over the past few days. On Wednesday morning (January 26), Russia reported a record-breaking total of 74,692 new coronavirus cases, including 19,856 in Moscow and 10,581 in St. Petersburg.

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