MOSCOW (AP) – Coronavirus deaths in Russia rose to another daily record on Wednesday, as a meteoric rise in infections prompted the Cabinet of Ministers to propose declaring a non-working week to stop the spread of the infection.
The government’s task force has reported 1,028 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. As a result, the total death toll was 226,353, the highest in Europe.
Against the backdrop of a surge in infections and deaths, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova proposed introducing a non-working period from October 30 and extending until next week, when four days out of seven are already public holidays. The proposal has not yet been approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Daily deaths from the coronavirus surged for several weeks and surpassed 1,000 for the first time over the weekend, amid low vaccination rates, weak public attitudes towards precautions and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. About 45 million Russians, or 32% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.
Despite the fact that in August 2020 Russia became the first country in the world to sanction coronavirus vaccinations, and vaccines are abundant, Russians are hesitant about vaccinations, with skepticism attributed to conflicting signals sent by the authorities.
So far, the Kremlin has ruled out new nationwide isolation, such as the early stage of the pandemic, which dealt a heavy blow to the economy and undermined Putin’s popularity by giving regional authorities in the country’s 11 time zones the ability to decide on local restrictions based on their location.
Many of Russia’s 85 regions already have limited access to major social events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other venues. Some have made vaccinations mandatory for certain government officials and people over the age of 60.
In Moscow, however, life continues as usual: restaurants and cinemas are crowded, crowds fill nightclubs and karaoke bars, and commuters have widely ignored bans on the use of masks on public transport, even though in recent weeks intensive care units were filled.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Tuesday that unvaccinated people over 60 will be required to stay at home. He also told companies to have at least a third of their employees work remotely for three months starting October 25.