Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was extending a national no-work order through the end of April, hoping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Vedomosti reports.
Russia reported a spike of 771 new coronavirus patients on Thursday, sharpening a dreaded upward curve in cases. The country has now confirmed more than 3,500 coronavirus cases, and 30 people have died from COVID-19. Moscow and St. Petersburg have been hot spots for the respiratory disease, officials say.
“We have not reversed the trend” of new cases in Moscow and other areas, Putin said as he announced the extension.
Millions of Russians in Moscow and elsewhere are already under stay-at-home orders, and the country is in a week-long “official non-work period,” which Putin ordered last week to slow the spread of the virus.
During the work stoppage, Putin has stipulated that employees must still be paid their regular wages, despite all but the most essential businesses — including pharmacies, groceries and banks — being told to shut down.
The Russian president recently ordered broad policy shifts to soften the pandemic’s economic effects, including a suggestion to raise the cap on most unemployment benefits by around 50%, to the level of the national minimum wage of 12,130 rubles per month (around $154).