Russia Emerges as Coronavirus Hotspot as Country Records Over 10,000 New Cases for Fourth Day in a Row

Russia has rapidly become a new hotspot for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, with the country recording more than 10,000 new infections per day for four days in a row.

As of Wednesday morning, Russia had the seventh-highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, according to a tracker updated by Johns Hopkins University. Government health officials reported 10,559 new cases, bringing the total to 165,929. More than 1,500 people have already died from COVID-19 in Russia.

"There are 1,200 to 1,500 people in intensive care beds across the country. Everyone is treated in cooperation with the federal consulting center, and we have created a system, in which we see all patients (both ambulatory and in hospitals), and in which bed they stay," Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Wednesday, Russia's Tass news agency reported.

"We have a total of about 4,000 severe cases," Murashko added.

Russia coronavirus
Medical specialists transport a person on a stretcher from an ambulance outside a hospital for patients infected with the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, in Saint Petersburg on April 25 during a strict lockdown in Russia to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty

Moscow, Russia's largest city and capital, is the country's epicenter with a little more than half of the country's total infections within the metropolitan area. According to The Moscow Times, the city has confirmed 85,973 total cases of the novel coronavirus, while 866 of those infected have died. Despite Russia's high infection rate, the death toll has until now remained relatively low compared with several European nations and the U.S.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the worst of the pandemic was yet to come. He also noted that the country was facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals.

"Ahead of us is a new stage, perhaps the most intense stage of the fight against the epidemic," Putin said in an April 28 address, during which he extended a national lockdown order until May 11. "The risks of getting infected are at the highest level, and the threat, the mortal danger of the virus persists," he warned.

"Russia has managed to slow down the spread of the epidemic, but we haven't passed the peak yet," Putin added.

Russia took early stringent measures in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country closed down most of its 2,600-mile-long land border with China on January 31. Then, a little more than two weeks later on February 18, Russian banned Chinese nationals from entering the country, expanding the ban to all foreign nationals a month later on March 18. The country also shut down its land borders with Poland and Norway on March 14.

Despite those restrictions on foreign travelers and lockdown measures at home, the novel coronavirus has managed to spread widely. Putin has also seen a significant dip in his approval rating as the pandemic has grown. Forbes Russia reported at the end of April that the Russian president's approval rating was at a 14-year low.