Russia braces for ‘very intense’ rise in Omicron COVID-19 cases

MOSCOW: Russia warned on Tuesday (January 11) that it could face a “very intense” increase in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the coming weeks and authorities bracing for a new wave of infections have said they would make more hospital beds available in Moscow.

Speaking at a televised meeting of the government coronavirus task force, Anna Popova, a senior consumer health official, said Russia has so far recorded 305 cases of Omicron in 13 of its regions.

“The risk of a very intense increase in (cases) of the disease is real,” she said.

Omicron has pushed the number of COVID-19 cases to record highs in parts of Western Europe and the United States, while cases in Russia have generally declined from a peak of 41,335 recorded in early November.

Officials said they now fear the trend could quickly reverse and Popova warned that daily infections could reach “six figures” if proper health measures are not followed.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin during the televised meeting that the capital, which has a population of 12.7 million, is already experiencing a significant increase in Omicron cases.

He said special measures would be taken to tackle the increase in cases, without giving details.

“It is necessary to mobilize more hospital beds, to mobilize the health system,” said Sobianine.

Sources told Reuters last month that officials were bracing for another wave of COVID-19 in early 2022.

The Kremlin has often expressed frustration over the slow adoption of the nation’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, many citing distrust of authorities and fear of new medical products.

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