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Russia implements national mask mandate as coronavirus cases rise

Russia implements national mask mandate as coronavirus cases rise
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Russia's government announced a nationwide mask mandate  Tuesday, a move health officials hope will blunt a sharp surge in cases that began last month.

The New York Times reported that the mandate was announced by a top Russian health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, though it wasn't clear initially how it would be enforced. The mandate comes as Russia has counted more than 1.5 million cases of the virus and more than 16,000 new cases Tuesday, showing a sharply increasing rate of new cases.

One lawmaker reportedly told Russia's president, Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian vessel threatens to ram US warship in disputed waters in Sea of Japan Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Biden rolls out national security team MORE, on Tuesday that as many as 91 members of Russia's 450-person lower house of the legislative assembly have contracted COVID-19, with dozens hospitalized as a result. Tuesday also represented a record day for the country as it recorded its highest number of deaths from the virus so far, with 320 in one day.

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Putin has been seen up until now as resisting the implementation of nationwide mandates to control the virus's spread, and has boasted about his country's handling of the virus despite Russia having the fourth-most number of coronavirus infections of any country.

“We are working rather smoothly and emerging from this situation with the coronavirus confidently and, with minimal losses. ... But in the [United] States that is not happening,” Putin said in June.

He also claimed in August that his country's scientists had developed a vaccine that he asserted at the time "works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks," adding that he allowed his adult daughter to have it administered.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Russian authorities had no plans to implement lockdown procedures, though the government has urged roughly a third of workers to stay at home.