MOSCOW (AP) – Russians returned to work on Monday after a nine-day hiatus ordered by authorities to contain a record wave of coronavirus infections and deaths.
Despite the drastic move, daily counts of new infections and deaths from COVID-19 remained high throughout the non-working period. Kremlin officials said Monday that it is too early to say whether the measure has had the desired effect.
“It’s too early to draw conclusions. This will become clear in about a week, ”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The Coronavirus Task Force in Russia reported 39,400 new cases and 1,190 deaths on Monday – just slightly lower than the record 41,335 new cases recorded on Saturday and a record 1,195 deaths on Thursday. Russia has the most deaths in Europe and is one of the five most affected countries in the world.
Since the end of October, the task force has reported about 40,000 new cases and over 1,100 new deaths daily.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered many Russians not to work between October 30 and November 7. He authorized regional governments to increase the number of days off if necessary, but only five Russian regions did so.
Others have restricted visits to public places such as restaurants, theaters and cinemas to only those who have received a full vaccination, recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.
The fall in infections and deaths in Russia comes amid low vaccination rates, weak public attitudes towards precautions, and government reluctance to tighten restrictions.
Less than 40% of the nearly 146 million people in Russia have been fully vaccinated, although Russia approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months earlier than most countries.
Overall, the Russian coronavirus working group reported more than 8.8 million confirmed cases and more than 248,000 deaths.
However, reports from the Russian statistical service Rosstat that tally of coronavirus-related deaths retroactively shows much higher mortality rates: 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September this year.
Russian officials said the target group only includes deaths from COVID-19 and uses data from medical facilities. Rosstat uses broader criteria for calculating virus-related deaths and takes data from registry offices, where death registration is completed.
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