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Over half of Russian regions can begin to loosen up lockdowns, says top sanitary official

44 regions have grounds to begin phase one of lifting the lockdowns
Chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog Anna Popova Dmitry Astakhov/POOL/TASS
Chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog Anna Popova
© Dmitry Astakhov/POOL/TASS

MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. More than a half of Russia’s 85 regions can begin to lift coronavirus lockdowns within days, Anna Popova, chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog, said on Sunday.

"Forty-four regions - more than a half - have grounds to begin phase one [of lifting the lockdowns] today or tomorrow," she said in an interview with the Voskresny Vecher (Sunday Evening) with Vladimir Solovyov program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on May 20 that seventeen Russian regions could begin easing the coronavirus restrictions.

According to Popova, the coronavirus situation in the country has stabilized. Thus, on May 11, when the nationwide days off were over, only nine Russian regions could begin to lift the lockdowns. "The forecast and prospects of today’s changes are quite stable and favorable. This is because when the days off were over on May 11 we introduced new criteria for beginning phase one. Back then, the propagation ratio, i.e. the number of people one patient can infect before being isolated, was less than one or equal to one only in nine regions. Today, it is less than one in 27 regions and is equal to one in 17 more regions," she said.

To date, a total of 344,481 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 113,299 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 3,541 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.