Russia has quarantined some 15,000 soldiers who took part in rehearsals for a Victory Day parade that appeared to violate the measures intended to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this month, a leaked video showed the troops, lined up for a rehearsal, without face masks. The video sparked outrage as the country had already imposed strict physical distancing measures.
The defence ministry said it would send the soldiers back to their bases, where they would be put under a two-week quarantine, but did not say if any of the soldiers had been infected with the virus.
On April 16, the country’s president Vladimir Putin announced that the 2020 May 9 celebrations marking the Russian victory in the World War II would be postponed until further notice.
Last week, the ministry said that dozens of personnel from the Nakhimov naval academy, which sends a delegation to march in the Victory Day parade, had been infected with Covid-19. The ministry said that none of those infected had taken part in the rehearsals.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, denied the claims that the rehearsals violated physical distancing guidelines, and said that the military had “a totally different regime of isolation that of course allows them greater freedom of movement”.
In recent days, Russia has seen a surge in coronavirus cases. On April 19, it confirmed more than 6,060 new infections, its highest daily increase so far. Major cities have been locked down since March 30, with people allowed only to leave their homes to buy essential goods or for medical emergencies.