According to the emergency operations center, there were 166,631 COVID-19 cases registered in Russia, and more than 137,881 patients recovered over the past 24 hours. As of February 15, more than 14.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus infection were detected in Russia during the pandemic.
According to the control headquarters, the Omicron strain was detected in 83 Russian regions. Russia ranks 6th in the world in the number of patients detected.
During the last day, 6,398 cases were recorded in Moscow, less than 1,000 people were admitted to hospitals. There were 3,235 new cases a day in St. Petersburg and 4,262 in the Moscow Region. These are the highest figures in the country.
According to Anna Popova, Deputy head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being, up to 80% of COVID-19 cases in Moscow and St. Petersburg are caused by the Omicron strain. However, according to the media citing Popova, there are no plans to enforce a new quarantine or impose other emergency measures in Russia because of the rapid spread of this strain of the virus. This decision has been taken primarily because infection with this strain causes mild symptoms in the vast majority of people.
The Ministry of Labor, in turn, recommended employers to transfer as many employees as possible to working remotely. These workers are recommended to get full wages if the volume of tasks performed is maintained.
Popova underlined in an interview with RIA Novosti that due to the mutations, the virus lost one of its receptors that helped it penetrate the lungs. At present, COVID-19 mostly remains in upper respiratory airways causing bronchitis and tracheitis in children. Severe forms of the disease, as before, are not observed. The number of hospital admissions has also decreased.
According to Denis Protsenko, chief doctor at Moscow's main coronavirus hospital, the omicron strain is the easiest compared to other strains, and delta is the most severe and aggressive one among them. Protsenko suggested that the coronavirus infection could become a seasonal disease by fall.
Zaur Shuguev, head of the covid hospital at the clinical hospital of RZD-Medica n.a. N.A. Semashko, also spoke about the peculiarities of the course of COVID-19 when the organism is affected by the omicron strain. He stressed that the symptoms of patients affected by coronavirus infection are already different. Loss of sense of smell and taste, which was especially typical when the pandemic just started, is practically not observed. Shuguev said in an interview with Radio Sputnik that the symptoms more often resemble the usual acute respiratory infections. Patients complain of a sore throat, body pain, weakness in general, and fatigue. According to him, previously these were symptoms of seasonal flu.
Izvestia previously published an interview with Mikhail Bolkov, a senior researcher of the immunochemistry department of Ural Federal University, in which he told about the distinctive features of the new coronavirus substrain Omicron BA.2. He believes that this substrate does not need any special treatment but it is difficult to diagnose and very contagious.
The U.K. Health Safety Authority released data in late January, showing that the symptoms of the BA.2 subspecies are identical to those of what is known as latent “omicron” and are similar to the original strain. Those affected have a fever and a prolonged cough, and their taste and sense of smell are altered or completely lost.
Since recently the infection with COVID-19 of school-age children, especially junior classes, has become of mass proportions, some regions have decided to transfer schoolchildren for distance learning.
According to Rospotrebnadzor, during the last week of January, the number of people falling ill with flu and ARVI increased by 47.4% in Perm as compared with the previous week. There was an increase of more than 72% in the age group from 7 to 14 years old. The epidemic threshold in the city as a whole was exceeded by 103%.
Vitaly Kostarev, the chief health inspector of the Perm territory, suggested that all schoolchildren should be transferred to distance learning from February 3 to 9. The same recommendations were given to the heads of colleges and supplementary education organizations.
In Tomsk, additional week-long vacations were introduced for first-graders from February 7 to 13. Due to a sharp increase in the number of people infected with the omicron strain, similar decisions were made in other regions of Russia, including the Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Novosibirsk, Ryazan, and Ulyanovsk regions, North Ossetia, Tuva, Stavropol territory, Ingushetia, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Leningrad region, and St. Petersburg.
According to Rospotrebnadzor, the increase in COVID-19 infections may continue for some time. This is since the regions are at different stages in the course of the disease. According to scientists' forecasts, the peak may come in February.
Meanwhile, many factors inspire confidence in defeating COVID-19. Firstly, the number of vaccinated residents is growing, and those who have recovered from the disease also have a high titer of antibodies, with which a person will tolerate the disease in a milder form. Secondly, the course of the disease caused by Omicron, which has spread across the country, is much milder. Third, the number of hospital admissions is reduced.