Moscow Mayor Says Actual Number of COVID-19 Patients Is Roughly 2 Percent of City Population

The mayor of Moscow has cited a statistic that suggests more than a quarter of a million people in his city have contracted the coronavirus, as Russia recorded its biggest spike in new cases of the disease.

Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his blog that testing in the Russian capital had shown that around 2 percent of residents had COVID-19, although he praised Muscovites for adhering to restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

"According to the results of screening studies of various population groups, the actual number of cases is about two percent of the total number of Moscow residents," he said.

Moscow, which as at the epicenter of the pandemic in Russia, has by some estimates around 12.7 million people, meaning that over 250,000 have been infected, according to Sobyanin's figures.

Red Square, Moscow
Police officers wearing face masks patrol on the empty Red Square on March 30, 2020, during a lockdown of the city to stop the spread of the epidemic COVID-19. Dimitar DILKOFF/Getty Images

On April 20, there were around 26,350 recorded cases of the coronavirus, or around 0.2 percent of the population, according to a Reuters report last month which cited data that suggested the disease had spread among residents without symptoms.

However, Sobyanin said that the 2 percent-figure, ten times higher than April's estimate, was positive, writing: "It is the lowest level among major global cities hit by the pandemic.

"We have succeeded in preventing the infection from spreading through discipline and Muscovites' support for self-isolation measures," Sobyanin said in the blog entry published on Saturday.

Sobyanin touted that there had been a considerable increase in testing capacity, with lab tests increasing five-fold over the last month. Other measures, including orders to stay at home until May 11, had managed to "curb the spread of the infection"

However he did warn that it is "obvious that the threat is still growing," and appealed to Muscovites to continue their self-isolation measures.

Also on Saturday, Russia confirmed that there were 9,623 new infections, a one-day record increase, with the official number of cases across the country now 124,054, making it the seventh-most affected country. There have been 1,169 deaths.

This week the country's prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, was diagnosed with coronavirus, while another cabinet member, Russia's Construction Minister, Vladimir Yakushev, also has the disease, according to the Tass news agency.

President Vladimir Putin has delegated responsibility for tackling the coronavirus to the regions, and Sobyanin has been at the forefront of the response.

"Moscow is a different case because it has a lot of different resources and Sobyanin was one of the first to introduce a lockdown," said Anna Arutunyan senior Russia analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"Some of his measures were adopted by other regions and the prime minister has commended him," she told Newsweek.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.