In the spring, the pandemic hit Moscow particularly hard while mostly sparing provincial Russia. But infections are rising in several of the country’s far-flung regions, overwhelming hospitals and morgues.
President Vladimir V. Putin, who has centralized political power during his long tenure, delegated to regional authorities decisions on locking down businesses, shutting schools and taking other public health precautions.
The stated purpose was to allow local officials to tailor their responses to their circumstances, though political analysts also noted that it allowed Mr. Putin to deflect blame for unpopular shutdowns or bad outcomes. Either way, the result has become a patchwork of rules throughout the country that are often poorly observed.
Over all, Russia’s health system has been coping. Tatyana Golikova, a deputy prime minister, said 80 percent of the beds in Covid-19 wards were occupied nationally. But some provinces have clearly lost control; five regions reported that 95 percent of the beds were occupied.
In Novokuznetsk, a coal mining town in Siberia, a morgue worker posted a video in which he appeared to walk on bodies in bags. They were so tightly packed in a corridor that there seemed no other way to get through.
“This is the hallway,” said the worker, who did not identify himself. “There are corpses all over. You can fall down walking here, you can trip over them. I have to walk on their heads.”
In Blagoveshchensk, a city in the Far East on the border with China, a local journalist, Natalya Nadelyaeva, described waiting in line at a morgue to pick up the body of her grandfather, then waiting in another line at a funeral home to arrange burial.
“The undertakers told me they just don’t have enough crews to bury everybody on time,” she said.
Russia has reported 1,579,446 cases, the fourth-highest number in the world, after the United States, India and Brazil.