Russia Plans to Resume Egypt, UAE, Maldives Flights Amid Pandemic

Russia has added Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives to the list of countries it plans to restart flights with five months after closing its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, a government decree said Thursday.

Russia grounded most international flights in late March to slow the spread of Covid-19. Russia gradually lifted travel restrictions to Britain, Turkey, Switzerland and Tanzania starting in August.

The decree, signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, states that air travel with Egypt, the UAE and the Maldives will resume “on a reciprocal basis.” It means that the three countries will need to accept Russian citizens in order for Russia to accept theirs.

The decision was based on the countries reporting no more than 40 daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, the government said.

Egypt has officially confirmed 99,280 coronavirus infections, with the UAE reporting 71,540 cases and the Maldives confirming 8,140.

“The crisis center continues to monitor the situation and work on expanding the list of countries with which air traffic can be resumed,” the Russian government said.

Greece and Poland this week lifted their coronavirus travel restrictions to allow Russian citizens to cross their borders for two-week periods. It was not immediately clear if Greek and Polish citizens would be allowed into Russia for non-essential travel.

Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of cases, with more than a million confirmed infections this week.

Mishustin also signed a decree allowing Russians multiple border crossings to take care of sick relatives abroad.

Russia Projected to Lose 11X More Population Than in 2019

Russia’s population decline in 2020 will be 1,100% greater than that of 2019 amid the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to government projections cited by the RBC news website Thursday.

The government forecasts a 352,500 drop in Russia’s population this year, according to the report, leading to a population of 146.4 million by the end of 2020.

That’s a nearly 11-fold increase from the previous year’s population decline of 32,100, according to RBC. Russia’s population stood at 146.7 million at the end of 2019.

The latest projected population decline for 2020 more than doubles last month’s forecast of 158,000. Experts told RBC that the revised population prediction is likely closer to reality because of an abrupt halt in migration to Russia and rising death rate caused by Covid-19.

The forecasts are part of the government’s draft plan for enacting President Vladimir Putin’s goal of reversing Russia’s demographic crisis by the end of his term in 2024, one of his National Projects announced with his re-election in 2018.

They estimate that Russia’s population will decline by a total of more than 1.2 million between 2020-24, RBC reported.

The projected decrease for 2020 would be Russia’s highest loss of population since 2006, when the population fell by 374,000 to a total of 142.2 million.

Official statistics say that Russia’s natural population fell by 346,900 in January-August 2020, compared to 219,200 in January-August 2019.

Migration into Russia also declined from 153,900 in January-July 2019 to 65,300 in January-July 2020.

In January-August, 71,748 more people died than in January-August 2019. Covid-19 either directly or indirectly caused nearly two-thirds of those deaths (45,663).

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