Authorities in Russia have denied claims of a "mystery virus outbreak" in Moscow, countering reports and videos that suggest otherwise.
Baza, a Russian Telegram channel, reported a pneumonia outbreak in the Russian capital, where ambulances appeared to be lined up outside Moscow hospitals amid the suspected crisis.
The channel described a “queue of ambulances at Infectious Diseases Hospitals No. 1 and No. 2 in Moscow” and claimed most of the people that were sick had pneumonia.
The Moscow Department of Health, however, downplayed the situation, asserting that there was “no significant increase in hospitalizations in the city.”
In a statement from the department, they explained that the presence of multiple ambulances outside infectious diseases hospitals during “peak hours” was “standard practice” and not indicative of an emergency.
The department highlighted a decline in COVID-19 incidence rates over the past two weeks, predicting a plateau in the coming weeks.
Despite the reassurances, rumors of the "mystery virus outbreak" surfaced after Putin's decision to reopen COVID-19 hospitals in response to a new strain.
Never miss a story — sign up for the Front Page Detectives newsletter. Be on the scene the moment news breaks.
Russian sources disclosed the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant among patients, prompting officials to reinstate mask-wearing for public servants and implement precautionary measures in government facilities.
Reports from Baza indicated a return to previous coronavirus rules in the Government House on Sept. 18, mandating officials to wear masks, limit visitors and reduce contact, as well as restricting business trips. The Kremlin implemented quarantine measures in elevators, allowing a maximum of three people at a time.
Putin is reportedly deeply concerned about contracting COVID-19 or any other circulating virus, seemingly further underlining the significance of the measures taken by the Russian government.
Become a Front Page Detective
Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.