President Putin prolongs virus non-work shutdown as cases spike

President Putin prolongs virus work shutdown as cases spike

President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday the extension of a non-working period in Russia to slow the spread of the coronavirus until April 30 as cases spike.

“I’ve taken a decision to extend the period of non-working days until April 30,” Putin said in an address broadcast on state television, saying that Russians will still receive their salaries.

The president first announced a week-long break from work in a rare televised address last week as part of a series of escalating measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus in Russia.

He announced the longer work-free period on Thursday after health officials had  said more time was needed.

Despite a raft of measures, coronavirus cases spiked Thursday with 771 new infections bringing the total to 3,548 and 30 deaths, according to official numbers.

Russia has no 'clear picture' of extent of virus outbreak: official

“The threat remains,” Putin said.

“The peak of the epidemic in the world has not yet been passed, including in our country.”

Moscow with more than 12 million inhabitants has seen the most cases so far.

Muscovites have been under a strict lockdown since Monday with residents  allowed to leave their homes only for essential shopping, medical emergencies, to walk pets or take out rubbish.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in his blog Thursday evening that these measures would be extended but announced that a plan to issue official passes for moving around the city using QR codes would not go ahead for now.

He said this could come up for discussion again if the virus situation worsens or more people flout rules on staying home.

From Thursday, Muscovites diagnosed with the virus whose health allows them to stay at home and quarantined family members have to consent to monitoring of their movements using satellite location on cell phones.

Moscow is also using facial recognition cameras to watch for breaches of quarantine.

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