It’s hardly escaped notice that while other major European cities – such as London, Berlin, Paris and Rome – are in various forms of shutdown, life in Moscow remains relatively normal, with even bars and cafes still open.

Movement levels in the capital are only down about 50 percent on usual averages, and the same situation pertains in most of the country. Although cinemas, large nightclubs and other major entertainments have been closed, some think the government is being too lax, However, it seems officials are only following expert advice.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, believes that if people observe rules and use common sense, a strict lockdown is not a necessary measure, at this moment.

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“If Russia and Moscow can keep self-discipline it will be much easier to go through this period without heavy quarantines,” she said at a press conference in the capital on Thursday. If necessary, I’m sure this measure will be applied. But at this point it seems that it is not needed yet.”

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“The measures that Russia is taking are very correct, Russia is one step ahead [of other comparable countries],” Vujnovic assured her audience, adding that she trusts the authorities to handle the situation.

It seems the Kremlin supports her viewpoint. President Putin’s spokesman said, also on Thursday, that coronavirus is currently manageable in Russia, which means there is no need to introduce a state-of-emergency.

“We do not have a de facto epidemic and in reality our situation is much better than in many countries,” Dmitry Peskov told the media. “This is definitely due to the measures that the government began to take in advance.”

Vujnovic added that nobody can predict when the pandemic might ease off. “No one knows when it will end, I am not Nostradamus,” she asserted. “The more we can comply with the rules, the faster the virus will go away.”

Putin announced on Wednesday that  the next working week (from March 30 to April 3) would be a paid holiday. He urged Russians to comply with all the recommendations of doctors and to stay at home. As of Thursday afternoon, Russia has reported 840 Covid-19 infections and three deaths.

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