COVID-19 cases in Russia have seen a significant surge in recent weeks, with hospitals and clinics reporting a rise in admissions. The country’s infection surveillance agency announced a 48% increase in COVID-19 cases within the past week. This surge in cases has been observed across 70 different regions, with a notable rise in hospitalizations in 42 of those regions.
The increase in cases is believed to be linked to the onset of the autumn season, according to the dedicated COVID-19 task force in Russia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Russia has recorded more than 23 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths related to the virus.
However, local physicians in Russia are reporting that the actual figures may be much higher than what is officially reported. In Moscow alone, nearly 27 hospitals are refusing new COVID-19 admissions due to a lack of available beds. There are also concerns about the availability of COVID-19 testing venues and a shortage of rapid test kits in drugstores and pharmacies throughout the country.
In addition to the increase in cases, a new sub-lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been discovered circulating in Russia. Derived from the XBB.1.9.1 variant, this sub-lineage has several mutations, including one known to be a factor behind COVID-19 disease severity. The earliest sequence of this sub-lineage was uploaded in April 2023, but due to limited genomic surveillance, it may have been silently spreading and growing in circulation dominance.
Furthermore, there are emerging reports of other concerning SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineages discovered in Russia, but more data is needed to understand their implications fully. Additionally, news reports indicate that many elderly care homes in Russia are experiencing high COVID-19 infection rates, leading to deaths among elderly residents from unexplained causes.
For the latest updates on the COVID-19 situation in Russia, it is advisable to stay informed through reliable sources.