Russian orthodox leader in self-isolation as cases near peak
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is in self-isolation, the church said on Thursday, as the government’s tally of new COVID-19 infections came close to a daily peak set nearly five months ago.
The Patriarch self-isolated after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, it said in a statement.
He “is in good health, feels well and continues to work remotely,” it said.
An official government website registered 11,493 new virus cases nationally Thursday, just shy of the record of 11,656 set on May 11.
Russia has confirmed 1,260,112 cases, 22,056 of them fatal, since the start of the outbreak — the fourth-highest caseload in the world after the United States, India and Brazil.
Health officials deny that Russia is experiencing a second coronavirus wave and insist sweeping new restrictions are unnecessary, despite the rebound to near-record infection levels.
But Anna Popova, head of consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, on Wednesday described the situation as increasingly difficult and warned new measures may lie ahead.
“Either we observe (restrictions) or we will have to introduce new measures,” she said.
Most national restrictions were eased ahead of a major WWII military parade and a July vote on constitutional amendments that paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to theoretically remain in power until 2036.
Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s epidemic, registered 3,323 new cases and 55 deaths Thursday.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reimposed some virus measures last month as cases started to increase, including stay-at-home orders for the vulnerable and the elderly. Restaurants and bars remain open.