Russia registered 500 new confirmed cases of coronavirus overnight yesterday in the steepest rise on record.
The overnight jump was nearly double the previous daily rise of 303 - itself set over the previous 24 hours - and brings the total to 2,337 overall. To date, 17 deaths have been officially ascribed to the virus.
Part of the recent increase can be explained by greater testing capacity, up by over 50% since last week.
But the spike also raises the possibility of Russia soon following the exponential curves of European capitals and the US - and less than a week after the Kremlin declared state interventions meant there was "de facto" no epidemic in country. The latest data also suggests the typical profile of Covid-19 patients is changing. Severe illness is affecting not only the elderly in Russia, officials have revealed. More than a third of new admissions were between 18 and 40 years of age. The same age group accounts for 40% of intensive care beds.
Addressing regional leaders in a televised conference on Monday, president Vladimir Putin appeared to distance his regime from the previous optimism. No longer was the virus "under control". Instead "timely actions" by authorities had avoided an "explosive surge" in the number of admissions.
The European Union's leading official has urged member countries to respect the bloc's core values amid fears that restrictions imposed by some national governments to combat the coronavirus pandemic could erode democracy across the continent.