MOSCOW (NWN) – Coronavirus infections and deaths in Russia climbed to another pandemic record on Friday, adding to the pressure on the country’s health care system.
The government coronavirus task force reported 37,141 new infections and 1,064 deaths in the last 24 hours. This brought the death toll in Russia to 228,453, the highest ever in Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to the worsening situation by ordering Russians to stay off work from October 30 until November 7, when the country is already observing an extended holiday.
Russian officials hope the order will help limit the spread of the virus by keeping them out of offices and off public transport, where mask mandates have been widely ignored. The government also urged local authorities to tighten their own restrictions during this period.
In some areas where the situation is even more dangerous, Putin said the non-working period could begin on Saturday and be extended until November 7.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Thursday introduced new restrictions in the capital that had already started.
Gyms, cinemas and other entertainment venues, as well as most stores, will be closed in Moscow from October 28 to November 7, along with kindergartens and schools. Restaurants and cafes will remain open for takeout or delivery orders only during that period. Food stores and pharmacies may remain open.
Access to museums, theatres, concert halls and other venues will be limited to those holding a digital code on their smartphone to prove vaccination or previous illness, a practice that will continue after November 7.
Sobyanin said that most state organizations and private businesses, except for major infrastructure and a few others, would stop work over a period of 11 days.
Russia’s daily infections have been rising for weeks and the death toll topped 1,000 for the first time last weekend, amid low vaccination rates, public attitudes toward precautions and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. Only about 45 million Russians – about a third of the 146 million people – are fully vaccinated.
Russia was the first country in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, launching Sputnik V in August 2020, and it had plentiful supplies. But the uptick has been slow, in part attributable to conflicting signals from officials.
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