Putin orders national mask mandate in Russia as coronavirus spikes in second wave


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered a nationwide mask mandate as a second wave of coronavirus cases put the country’s medical system under a severe strain.

With COVID-19 cases rising at over 15,000 a day, the country’s health agency ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, including public transport, and in closed spaces like taxis and elevators.

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The agency also suggested that bars and restaurants close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Reuters reported.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus leave a subway in Moscow, Russia, on Monday. Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second lockdown or shutting down businesses after most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus leave a subway in Moscow, Russia, on Monday. Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second lockdown or shutting down businesses after most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The measures come as Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova on Wednesday told Putin and other senior government officials that the country is facing a critical situation as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

Golikova said hospital beds in 16 Russian regions were at more than 90% capacity, the outlet reported.

Doctors in the Kurgan region — about 1,220 miles east of Moscow — called on Putin to send help last week, saying there was a critical shortage of hospital space and staff, according to the outlet.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

In response, the defense ministry said in a statement obtained by Russian news agencies that it will send army medics to help the region.

The death toll in Russia reached nearly 27,000 on Wednesday, authorities said.

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Russia, which has world’s fourth highest tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1.5 million, is still resisting a full second lockdown like the one imposed across the country earlier this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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