The coronavirus or COVID-19 case tally in Russia rose over 260,000 on Friday, cementing the place for the nation as second-most affected country due to the novel virus outbreak after the US, with Moscow starting to offer free antibody tests.
The death toll in the European country took a rise by 113 overnight for reaching 2,418, the coronavirus task force of Russia stated with the case tally jumping by 10,598 to hit 262,843. The epicenter of the outbreak in Russia, Moscow, began mass antibody testings of the residents on Friday for trying to work out what part of the population has already been infected and to identify the infected people without any symptoms.
Mayor of Moscow assured of more than 200,000 tests a day
Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow's mayor, has promised over 200,000 such tests a day by the end of May and said the program will help him decide how and when to ease lockdown measures which have forced many businesses to close. Though Russia was quick to seal off much of its border with China to try to reduce the spread of the virus it was slower to close down European travel.
Many richer Russians caught the virus during their annual ski holiday at the French ski resort of Courchevel in March, six Russians familiar with the matter told Reuters, three of whom fell ill after their own trip there. One of them, Alexander Sorkin, a wealthy Russian restaurateur, flew back via Geneva on March 9 and was diagnosed with the virus several days later. He said he knew of at least 60 others with virus symptoms after the trip.
"A ski resort is the perfect environment for breeding coronavirus. It's just the right temperature and there is a huge social life," said Sorkin, who has now recovered. Ellina Litvinchuk, who works for a Russian fashion brand and tested positive for the virus after such a holiday, said that most of the 30 people she traveled with to Courchevel in early March had also got sick on their return.
Russia grappling with Coronavirus
Musa Bazhayev, president of Russian Platinum, one of the world's major producers of the metal, and tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov were in Courchevel around the same time, three people who know them said. Bazhayev was later taken to hospital with symptoms of the virus, three sources said. Bazhayev's spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Prokhorov said the businessman "has not been and is not being treated for COVID-19 and has no indications of illness."
Petr Tushkevich, World Kitesurfing Champion, told Reuters he was taken to hospital with the virus after his return from Courchevel. One Russian banker, who declined to be named, said he knew a number of people who returned on the March 9 flight from Geneva but then ignored an order from Moscow authorities to self-isolate for two weeks. "People were irresponsible," the executive said.
Sobyanin, Moscow's mayor, spoke about such Russians in an appearance on the TV Centre channel on March 25. "Many people were in Courchevel and brought a suitcase full of viruses from there," Sobyanin complained.
(With agency inputs)