Russia Coronavirus Cases Pass 100,000 After Record Spike in Infections, Putin Warns Peak is Still Ahead

Russia has reported a new daily record increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the nationwide tally of infections passes 100,000.

The country's coronavirus crisis response center said Thursday that Russia had recorded 7,099 new cases in the previous 24 hours, according to Reuters. This brings the total number of reported infections to 106,498, the eighth-most in the world.

The Russian death toll is now 1,073. Another 101 people died with the virus in the past 24 hours. The Russian death toll is still much lower than other large nations, but the virus lag-time suggests this will also spike in the coming weeks.

Observers have noted that Russia could be underreporting both the number of infections and the number of cases, partially due to the initial low rate of testing. In the early stages of the pandemic, Russian authorities reported a spike in the number of pneumonia cases, a complication of COVID-19 infection, which were not attributed to the virus.

The number of cases in Russia is accelerating fast. President Vladimir Putin claimed in March that the national outbreak was small and under control, but the crisis has ballooned out of the state's control.

Putin himself has self-isolated for several weeks, having come into contact with a senior doctor at a Moscow hospital who later tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The government implemented strict lockdown measures at the end of March to try and slow the spread of the disease. Earlier this week, Putin announced that "non-working days" would be extended to May 11, warning that Russia has still not reached the peak of infections.

"We are now probably faced with the most rigorous stage of the fight against this epidemiology," Putin said, according to the Tass state news agency. "Risks of catching the infection are reaching their climax. The danger and the lethal threat of the virus persist and it goes for everyone."

The president said he had instructed regional officials to prepare plans for lifting restrictions after May 12, but warned that this could only be done if the number of infections and deaths fall.

In some areas, restrictions might be retained or reintroduced, Putin said. "We must brace ourselves for having a difficult path ahead, on which all risks must be foreseen."

He called on Russians to respect stay-at-home orders, which have prompted protests in some parts of the country among those whose livelihoods are threatened by the economic freeze.

New poll figures released this week indicate falling support for Putin, who has been in power either as president or prime minister since 2000. The strongman leader recently pushed through constitutional amendments allowing him to circumvent term limits and potentially stay in power until 2036.

This week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov suggested the number of new cases would plateau in mid-May and begin declining in June. Within a couple of months, he said, the country would be through the worst of the turmoil.

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A woman walks past a makeshift memorial for medical workers who have died from COVID-19 coronavirus disease, set up outside the local health department in Saint Petersburg, Russia on April 28, 2020. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images/Getty