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Russia saw a surge in coronavirus cases on Monday near the peak in May but has stopped reintroducing strict lockdown measures.

With the fourth highest number of cases in the global pandemic, Russia took tough measures when the virus first broke out, including closing borders from March while Muscovites had to apply for electronic IDs to travel around the city.

On Monday, the government confirmed 10,888 new cases, nearing its May 11 high of 11,656.

Of these, 3,537 were in the capital, by far the hardest hit city, where Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Sunday that there were “many seriously ill”.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said Friday that a sharp increase in cases has been “serious” since the end of September, but added that “we expected it to,” state-run TASS reported.

She cited people returning to work and the rise in flu and pneumonia cases that could be expected across the board in the fall and winter.

In Moscow, the mayor has introduced some measures to slow down the infection rate. He urges those over 65 to stay at home and demands that companies have at least 30 percent of employees work from home as of Monday.

These measures lag far behind the tight lockdown that peaked in Moscow in March. The capital recorded the highest daily number of new cases in May at 6,703, well above the current number.

“I can imagine that a complete self-isolation regime will not be reintroduced in Russia,” Senator Valery Ryazansky told the state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday.

However, he warned that a complete border closure was possible.

“Of course we can close the Russian border. We’ll get to it,” he said.

Fear of the effects of the virus hit the ruble, among other things, which fell to its lowest level since 2016 against the euro last month.

Russia has recorded 21,475 deaths from viruses.

In August, a vaccine called Sputnik V was approved, which is a world first, although large-scale clinical trials continue. Another Russian vaccine is currently being tested.

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© 2020 AFP

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