President Vladimir Putin warned officials on Monday to prepare for “extraordinary” scenarios in the coronavirus pandemic as Moscow tightens its lockdown measures and Russia has reported its highest daily infection figures to date.

In a videoconference with officials on Monday, Putin said the coming weeks would be “decisive” for Russia’s fight against the virus, as the situation “changes almost every day, and unfortunately not for the better.”

He told officials that they should “consider every scenario, even the most complex and extraordinary,”.

During the videoconference, Putin called for action to end shortages of protective equipment for doctors.

“I know there are not always enough of them and of course here we need additional measures to eliminate all these shortages,” said the president.

He added that Russia would also call on the Defense Ministry to help it if necessary.

Russia has sent military planes with specialists and equipment to countries like Italy, China and the United States, gestures that have prompted some Russians to criticize the use of crucial resources for geopolitical purposes.

Digital travel permits

As part of the tightening of virus measures, authorities in Moscow began issuing digital licenses on Monday to reduce coronavirus lockout violations, with Russia reporting more than 2,500 new infections, its largest daily increase at that time. day.

Authorities said more than 800,000 passes were issued to people planning to travel by car or public transportation before the system officially launched on Wednesday.

But they said hackers targeted the mayor’s office website and the candidates complained on social media that they had been unable to obtain a pass despite several attempts.

People will be assigned a special code consisting of a sequence of numbers and letters – which can be printed or received by email – if people indicate where they intend to go.

Work passes will be valid until April 30, while passes obtained to go to the doctor or elsewhere can only be used once.

Police patrols will be able to check passes on the streets and could fine people for offenses.

Armed forces personnel, municipal officials and journalists, among others, are excluded.

Hospitals are approaching limits

The digital permit system could be extended to monitor people who go out on foot, even in their neighborhood, if necessary, authorities said.

Authorities had originally planned to introduce an aggressive surveillance system and assign scannable QR codes to Muscovites whenever they wanted to leave their homes, but this has generated enormous controversy.

The plan was abandoned in favor of the current system.

Under strict confinement rules in the Russian capital, Muscovites are only allowed to leave their homes to walk their dogs, take out trash and visit their nearest store, although travel by private car was not limited so far.

Moscow has been locked since March 30, but has struggled to cope with the influx of new patients, and authorities have said hospitals are nearing their limits.

Russia reported 2,558 new infections on Monday – the largest daily increase to date – bringing the total to 18,328 cases and 148 deaths.

It is believed, however, that the actual numbers are much higher, as many of those with mild symptoms are not tested.

The densely populated capital of more than 12 million inhabitants has become the Russian epicenter of the contagion with 11,513 cases and 82 deaths.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who coordinates efforts to fight the virus, predicted that the number of cases in Moscow and the region would continue to increase in the coming days.

“Of course, we hope that this growth will reach a plateau,” she added.

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