Russia has jumped past Italy and the United Kingdom in its struggle with the coronavirus, now making it the country with the third largest number of cases. Per Reuters, the number of confirmed cases there shot to 221,344 as of Monday. It lags only behind Spain, which has just upward of 224,000 cases, and the US, which is No. 1 with more than 1.3 million. The number of new cases in Russia jumped by 11,656 in a 24-hour period—a one-day record, per the Moscow Times. It now claims the second fastest rate of new infections in the world, behind only the United States. The country has registered just over 2,000 deaths from the virus as of Monday, though that death toll, which is much lower than in other countries, has raised some eyebrows. Hardest hit has been the capital city of Moscow, which has reported more than half of all COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Russian officials say the spike in reported cases is due to the large-scale testing that's underway, which is picking up on asymptomatic cases that other countries may not be. Meanwhile, a World Health Organization official tells Bloomberg that, despite the dire-looking numbers, the country may have hit its plateau, with a "stabilizing" growth rate. Per NBC News, President Vladimir Putin led a "muted" celebration Saturday commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over the Nazis, without the huge parade originally planned. He didn't mention anything about the pandemic. Due to the virus, the Russian leader was also forced to call off a late-April referendum that may have put him in power until 2036. Putin is set to hold a meeting Monday in which he'll examine the country's current lockdown protocol, which went into place in late March, and decide whether to alter it. (Read more Russia stories.)