Escalating Covid crisis in Russia
With 670 deaths per day, the number of people dying from Covid in Russia has now reached unprecedented levels, in part because of the Delta variant. Yet apart from certain restrictions on border traffic the country has not imposed any stringent containment measures for a year. Vaccination is also making slow progress, with only twelve percent of the population fully vaccinated. What are the reasons and what lies ahead for the country?
The price of vaccine scepticism
The next few months could be dire for Russia, warns The Irish Times:
“In Russia as elsewhere, the only route to safety is vaccination, yet even though Russia has ample supplies of four home-grown jabs, the public has been slow to avail of them and polls show most Russians do not want to get inoculated. Only around 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. ... The official death toll stands at 126,000, though excess mortality figures suggest the real number is much higher. Without a rapid rise in vaccination acceptance, it faces a long, traumatic summer.”
We're lost without reforms
Radio Kommersant FM is worried that Russia will lose out due to the pandemic:
“The virus will continue to mutate, the death rate will rise and the epidemic will never end. But it's not too late: the process must be accelerated and vaccinations should be carried out on a mass scale. At least the Russian people have become aware of the danger and are now starting to go and get vaccinated. But that is not enough. ... Every disaster exposes the state a society is in. It is obvious that something is rotten in this state. As bad as it may sound, reforms and changes are needed. Because if things go on like this, we won't beat the pandemic and we'll lag behind the entire planet.”
Prevent imported infections
Eesti Päevaleht considers the current regulations on border traffic with its neighbour too lax:
“At the moment, people without symptoms are allowed to enter the country [from Russia] without even a test, merely with a 10-day isolation requirement. And citizens and residents of Estonia can enter irrespective of whether they have symptoms. It would be justified to make testing compulsory when entering Estonia from Russia, because last week 66 percent of Estonia's 'Covid imports' came from there.”
Sit it out at any price?
The Euro Cup quarter-final between Spain and Switzerland is scheduled for today in St. Petersburg. Politicians seem to be more concerned about the tournament than about the fight against the pandemic, criticises Tages-Anzeiger:
“Until recently Russia believed it had overcome and defeated the pandemic with flying colours. ... The Kremlin couldn't refrain from taking acerbic sideswipes at the 'incompetent' West, where the numbers were skyrocketing. But now it seems that the worst is yet to come for Russia. ... The hospitals [in St. Petersburg] have reached their limits. ... But the city doesn't care: not only is the European Championship going ahead as planned, but hardly any other measures have been taken against the pandemic. ... St. Petersburg seems to want to sit out the crisis until the end of the Euro Cup.”