Russia's COVID-19 cases could peak in mid-November, says health watchdog

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s coronavirus cases could peak in the middle of November, the country’s consumer health watchdog estimated on Tuesday, as authorities reported more than 18,000 new infections nationwide.

FILE PHOTO: Medical workers transport a patient inside the City Clinical Hospital Number 52, where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Moscow, Russia October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The peak would be roughly mid-November, Alexander Gorelov, deputy director of a research institute at Rospotrebnadzor, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

“It is difficult to give a more accurate forecast as many factors affect the development of the epidemiological process,” he said.

Officials have repeatedly said that Russia does not intend to reimpose the strict lockdown restrictions that were in place in the spring, despite a surge in cases and deaths across the country.

Moscow’s health department said 367 patients in the capital were being treated with medical ventilators and that 1,355 had been hospitalised in the last 24 hours, a rise of 224 since Sunday, the last available data.

Russia reported 18,648 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including 5,150 in Moscow, but authorities said more than half of those hospitalised were under the age of 45 and that growth in new infections was slowing.

“We hope that at the peak the number of new cases will not exceed 20,000 (per day),” Gorelov said.

The makers of one of Russia’s vaccines against the coronavirus, being developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, were planning to send the shot into circulation before post-registration trials were complete, TASS cited consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor as saying.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia hopes to start mass inoculations by the end of the year, but Moscow has faced problems in scaling up production due to equipment availability.

Just over 1,000 military medics were treating people in Russia and abroad, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Authorities reported 355 deaths on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 28,828.

Russia has reported 1,673,686 infections, the world’s fourth largest number after the United States, India and Brazil.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond