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Virus cases top 32,000 in Russia, ‘difficult weeks’ ahead

Russia said Friday it had recorded 32,008 coronavirus cases, including a record 4,070 in the last 24 hours, with officials warning that Moscow was two to three weeks away from a peak in infections.

Official figures showed more than half of the new cases were registered in Moscow and the surrounding region. So far 273 deaths have been recorded in Russia, including 41 in the last 24 hours.

Moscow, Europe’s largest city with some 12 million inhabitants, has been under lockdown since the end of March but officials have complained that many residents are flouting confinement rules.

Deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova warned the city “will face difficult weeks” ahead.

“The peak in morbidity should arrive in the next two to three weeks,” she said in a video released on social media.

Under confinement rules that Muscovites have to observe until at least May 1, they are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, walk their dogs, take out trash or visit their nearest shop.

This week city authorities tightened the lockdown by introducing a digital permit system, requiring that anyone travelling by car or public transport obtain a pass.

Russia has carried out more than 1.7 million coronavirus tests, though there have been concerns about their reliability.