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Russia's New Coronavirus Cases Top 10,000 For Sixth Straight Day

Moscow has lion's share of coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia.
Moscow has lion's share of coronavirus cases and deaths in Russia.

Russia registered more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row -- an indication the spread of the virus inside the country remains serious despite a stringent lockdown -- as the Communist party leader called for the release of nonviolent criminals from prison.

Russia’s coronavirus crisis response center reported 10,669 new coronavirus cases on May 8, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 187,859, the fifth highest in the world. The May 8 increase was below the national record set the previous day of 11,231.

Moscow, which has the lion's share of the nation’s cases and deaths, announced on May 7 that a citywide lockdown would be extended until the end of the month as new cases continued to rise. The city has handed out more than 35,000 violations of the quarantine as it seeks to encourage people to stay home.

Moscow Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said May 8 that city residents will be required to wear masks in public places starting May 12. Residents not wearing masks inside public transport will be fined 5,000 rubles ($68).

Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of Russia's Communist Party and a member of the lower house of parliament, sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin requesting he give amnesty to some prisoners serving their first sentence for minor, nonviolent crimes that are not corruption-related. Zyuganov cited the pandemic as a reason.

Russian activists have warned that the roughly 875,000 people held in the nation’s prisons and pretrial-detention facilities -- and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them -- could be in particular danger from the spread of the virus.

Although Russia has significantly reduced the number of prisoners in recent years, many facilities remain overcrowded. Disproportionate numbers of prisoners suffer from chronic illnesses, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV infection. COVID-19 is particularly deadly for those with preexisting conditions.

Russia’s coronavirus crisis response center reported 98 new fatalities on May 8 from COVID-19, bringing the nation's death toll to 1,723. The death tally in Moscow surpassed 1,000.

Russia’s death rate from COVID-19 remains relatively low, triggering criticism that the authorities may be covering up the real toll of the outbreak by failing to correctly identify coronavirus deaths as such, accusations that have been rejected by authorities.

Russian officials say the outbreak in their country started later than in parts of the world, allowing authorities to better prepare for the pandemic.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and TASS
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