Coronavirus | Russia virus surge mutes V-Day celebrations

No forgetting the war heroes: Russian President Vladimir Putin watching honour guards marching past during a flower-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Rising coronavirus infections forced Russia on Saturday to curtail its celebrations marking the end of Second World War, as deaths from the pandemic surged past 270,000 worldwide and the global economy reeled from the disease and lockdowns. Economic figures point to the most acute downturn in nearly a century — the U.S. being particularly hard hit with 20.5 million jobs lost in the month of April.

The figure was the highest ever reported and represented the biggest percentage increase since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Also read: Coronavirus | Russia registers record rise in cases

Despite the dire news, President Donald Trump insisted next year would be “phenomenal” for the economy in a country where the virus has killed more than 75,000, telling reporters: “I think it’s going to come back blazing”. He is determined to reopen the U.S. economy even though the virus has reached the White House’s inner circle.

Some European countries are attempting to manage an easing of their lockdowns — German Chancellor Angela Merkel planning an almost complete return to normality within a month. taly and Denmark both plan to reopen some public buildings soon and Britain is expected to offer a roadmap out of lockdown on Sunday.

‘Unity and endurance’

The pandemic, which has already infected almost four million worldwide, continues to wreak havoc on cultural calendars with celebrations to mark the end of Second World War in Europe being the latest to fall victim.

Also read: Coronavirus | Russian Prime Minister tests positive for COVID-19

Across Europe, events marking 75 years since Nazi Germany’s surrender were due to be held on Friday, but were cancelled or scaled down. Russia, which usually hosts grand military parades for the event a day later than the rest of Europe, finds itself at the centre of the pandemic crisis. A Red Square parade was postponed and President Vladimir Putin instead gave a speech outside the Kremlin walls on Saturday, making no mention of the coronavirus.

“Our veterans fought for life, against death. And we will always be equal to their unity and endurance,” Mr. Putin said, highlighting the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. “We know and firmly believe that we are invincible when we stand together.”

Russia is now the fifth-hardest-hit country with nearly 200,000 confirmed infections and its caseload is rising rapidly with more than 10,000 new ones confirmed every day this week.

Parades elsewhere

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, parades were held only in Turkmenistan and Belarus — where President Alexander Lukashenko said he had “no choice” as “the eyes of those Soviet soldiers who perished for our freedom are watching”.

As many Americans and Russians faced up to an intense barrage of deaths and new cases, Brazil also emerged as a potential global concern. The country is the centre of the outbreak in Latin America and announced a record number of deaths on Friday, with 751 deaths bringing its toll to almost 10,000.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 1:16:49 PM |

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