Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021

Russia reports record daily Covid-19 cases, deaths

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday (Oct 14) reported a high for both new coronavirus infections and fatalities over 24 hours, with the country’s vaccination drive at a snail’s pace and few restrictions in place.

Officials registered 31,299 new infections and 986 deaths from Covid-19 over 24 hours, bringing Russia’s total fatalities to 220,315 – the highest toll in Europe.

The surging outbreak has come with just 31 per cent of Russians fully inoculated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid-19 data from Russian regions.

A lack of tough restrictions has allowed the virus to spread, though a number of regions have reintroduced QR codes for access to public places.

The Kremlin has balked at reintroducing major restrictions despite calling the country’s vaccination rate “unacceptably” low, saying this week that the authorities have to ensure “the economy continues working”.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Thursday blamed the spread on the behaviour of Russians and called on them to get vaccinated.

“If we do not introduce general restriction measures now, we run the risk of a continuing rise in cases,” he was cited by state news agency TASS as saying.

He did not, however, specify possible restrictions.

While several Russian-developed jabs have been available for months, the authorities have struggled to inoculate a vaccine-sceptic population.

Independent polls show that more than half of Russians do not plan to get a shot.

Moscow – the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak – has so far avoided bringing back restrictions, but on Monday it announced that it would open two dozen sites around the capital where residents could get free express tests.

Independent experts have accused the authorities of downplaying the severity of Russia’s epidemic.

Under a broader definition of deaths linked to the virus, the Rosstat statistics agency said last week that by the end of August, more than 400,000 Russians with the coronavirus had died.

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