Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered a nationwide mask mandate as a second wave of coronavirus cases put the country’s medical system under a severe strain.
With COVID-19 cases rising at over 15,000 a day, the country’s health agency ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, including public transport, and in closed spaces like taxis and elevators.
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The agency also suggested that bars and restaurants close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Reuters reported.
The measures come as Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova on Wednesday told Putin and other senior government officials that the country is facing a critical situation as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
Golikova said hospital beds in 16 Russian regions were at more than 90% capacity, the outlet reported.
Doctors in the Kurgan region — about 1,220 miles east of Moscow — called on Putin to send help last week, saying there was a critical shortage of hospital space and staff, according to the outlet.
In response, the defense ministry said in a statement obtained by Russian news agencies that it will send army medics to help the region.
The death toll in Russia reached nearly 27,000 on Wednesday, authorities said.
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Russia, which has world’s fourth highest tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1.5 million, is still resisting a full second lockdown like the one imposed across the country earlier this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.