Briefly about the COVID-19 situation in Russia

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Most of the discussion about the COVID-19 epidemic in Russia and most countries has focused on a the number of new cases of Coronavirus per day, the total number of Coronavirus cases, the number of tests done, the number of people who recovered from the virus infection, and the unfortunate number of people who did not.

Since Russia instituted its nationwide lockdown in the final days of March and the early days of April, I’ve been personally keeping track of the epidemic on a daily basis. An official government status report is published each morning at or shortly after 10:30 and like most people I can see these data represented in graphs and charts in Telegram channels and in news articles on the broader Internet. But I’ve been somewhat disappointed in the lacking variety of graphs and charts portraying different aspects of the data. I thus decided to make my own graphs and charts to analyze the official government data in ways not widely shared on the Internet.

All the following graphs are up to date as of May 20, 2020 at 18:00 Moscow time and contain only data provided by the Russian government.

The weekly growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in Moscow

This graph displays the seven-day average of the daily change in the total number of COVID-19 cases in Moscow compared to the previous seven-day period. For example, during week one, the average daily growth of the total number of COVID-19 cases in Moscow was about thirty percent. The average daily growth last week (May 11-17) was just 3.8 percent.

Prospects for this week look even better: the daily growth rate has been under three percent, with today’s being the lowest on record at just 1.8%.

New and Total Number of COVID-19 Cases in Moscow

This chart I put together combining data from two charts published daily by the news: the number of new cases in Moscow and the total number of cases in Moscow. With this graph, one can see that Moscow reached its peak of about 6000 new cases each day from about May 2-11 and has been recording a decline in new cases since.

Even the curve in the total number of cases has begun to show itself. However, this information should be taken with a grain of salt, since the government significantly increased Coronavirus testing at the end of April, thus inevitably yielding more positive results. This is why I personally like following the next chart.

Percent of daily COVID-19 tests returning positive results

This graph shows, regardless of the number of COVID-19 tests given on a particular day, how many of them returned a positive result for the virus. Russia has never had a day when more than 6.88% of tests returned a positive result. More than 154,000 tests had been done that day.

The percentage has been below five points for over a week with today’s most recent data showing that just 3.8% of the 225,000 tests done yesterday returned positive results.

Total number of COVID-19 cases in Russia as a percentage of the total number of tests done

This chart also shows the epidemic situation in Russia improving. The first time this indicator fell was May 15 after peaking on May 14 at 4.13%. Today that figure has fallen to 4.07%.

Earlier this month, Moscow extended its self-isolation orders until May 31 but the federal government delegated power to regional governments to determine when to loosen restrictions as the local health situation allows. President Putin meanwhile ended his controversial “non-working days” holiday that was initially set to last for just one week (but lasted for six) and required employers to continue paying salaries to employees who were not, due to the epidemic, permitted to go to work.

For now, Moscow continues to maintain its lockdown status and has even instituted a mandatory mask and gloves ordinance for all public transportation and for places likes grocery stores. The masks and gloves are only “recommended” while walking outside. Interestingly, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was recently photographed wearing only a mask (but not the required gloves), while speaking in the Moscow metro. His office defended him, saying he was not in a public location, but instead at a site where a new metro station is being constructed. Nevertheless, cries of hypocrisy ensued — especially online.

Moscow Mayor Sobyanin

Meanwhile, construction and manufacturing workers have been allowed to return to work in Moscow, as have auto mechanics. The city, however, maintains its digital pass system, which requires each person to obtain a QR code digital pass if they intend to leave their houses for anything beyond grocery shopping, visiting a health clinic or pharmacy, or walking their dog. Regardless, people generally have felt free to roam around in public, with or without a digital pass, and some have been fined for doing so.

Outside of Moscow, several Russian regions have begun loosening restrictions and allowing residents to return to a (somewhat) normal life. There is great hope that restrictions will start being loosened here in Moscow after May 31, though the mask and gloves ordinance is probably here to stay for a while.

About the Author

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Louis Marinelli

American expatriate living in Russia since 2016.
Американский экспатриант, живущий в России с 2016-го года. Подпиши́тесь в группу Moved To Russia ВКонтакте

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