(AFP) — Russia cemented its place as the European country reporting the highest number of new coronavirus infections Tuesday as its total cases soared passed 155,000.
Yevgeny Mikrin, chief designer at Energia, Russia’s top producer of spacecraft, has died from the coronavirus, becoming one of the infection’s highest-profile victims in the country, officials said. He was 64.
“Best doctors fought for his life over the past few weeks,” Dmitry Rogozin, director of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos, said in a statement.
Moscow’s sprawling metro system began selling masks and a metro representative told AFP that wearing masks underground may soon become compulsory.
Several vending machines installed at the Russian capital’s metro stations began offering masks and gloves.
Vending machines at around 15 stations are expected to start carrying them in the coming days.
Masks and gloves will also be available for purchase at ticket booths at some stations, the metro said.
“The metro is continuing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said deputy head Yulia Temnikova, urging passengers to also use sanitizer dispensers that are being installed underground.
Moscow has emerged as the epicentre of the pandemic in Russia, with around half the total coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, health officials reported 10,102 new infections over the last 24 hours, a decrease of 531 cases from Sunday’s record surge, bringing Russia’s total to 155,370.
Russia has emerged as a new coronavirus hotspot as many European countries unveil plans to ease lockdown measures after their numbers of new infections and deaths began to fall.
Despite the increases in Russia, the government has indicated it could gradually lift confinement measures from May 12, depending on the region.
The number of new cases in Russia is significantly higher compared to other European countries, with the United Kingdom in second place reporting just under 4,000 new infections on Monday.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the highest ranking official to contract the infection, is now “feeling normal,” said spokesperson Boris Belyakov.
He said Mishustin, who announced he tested positive last week, was continuing treatment under health ministry guidance.
The authorities say they have carried out more than four million coronavirus tests and Russia’s fatality rate has remained low compared to other countries hit badly by the pandemic including Spain, Italy and the United States.
According to the government’s daily coronavirus update, Russia has 1,451 total deaths, after reporting 95 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.
Russia ranks 18th overall in terms of coronavirus deaths, according to an AFP tally, despite being seventh in the world in overall coronavirus cases.