| 18 May 2024, Saturday |

Russia posts record virus deaths for third day running

According to an official tally, Russia reported 672 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, setting a new pandemic high for the third day in a row.

The country is fighting a rapidly spreading outbreak fueled by the highly infectious Delta form and exacerbated by a sluggish vaccination campaign, with President Vladimir Putin pushing Russians to get vaccinated on national television on Wednesday.

The daily death toll on Thursday surpassed the previous highs of 669 on Wednesday and 652 on Tuesday.

With 115 deaths, Saint Petersburg, which will host the Spain vs. Switzerland Euro 2020 quarter-final on Friday in front of thousands of fans, was the city with the highest deaths.

Following their team’s loss to Belgium earlier this month, dozens of Finland fans were infected in the city, where officials have imposed few restrictions other from barring food sales in fan zones.

In Moscow, where the city’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, alleges that the Delta variety, first discovered in India, accounts for 90% of cases, authorities have imposed a series of new restrictions.

Restaurants must only serve inside guests who have been immunized or infected within the last six months, and businesses must send home 30% of unvaccinated personnel.

More than a dozen Russian areas have already followed Sobyanin’s lead, requiring 60 percent of the city’s service industry workers to be fully immunized by mid-August.

– Booster jabs –

Kaliningrad, Russia’s western exclave, became the latest area to impose new restrictions on unvaccinated tourists attending bus tours on Thursday.

Hotels in the Krasnodar area, which includes Russia’s popular Black Sea resort city of Sochi, began accepting only vaccinated or negative-testing guests on Thursday.

Despite the fact that free vaccinations have been offered since early December, the Kremlin admitted earlier this week that it would not be able to fulfill its aim of fully inoculating 60 percent of Russia’s population by September.

Authorities have faced a population highly sceptical of coronavirus vaccines, in particular Russia’s homegrown jabs, with independent polling showing that 60 percent do not plan on getting inoculated.

As of Thursday, just 17.4 million of Russia’s population of about 146 million people — or about 12 percent — had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid data from the regions.

Despite Russia’s problems to vaccinate its people, Moscow Mayor Sobyanin urged residents who had been immunized more than six months ago to obtain a booster shot with the country’s domestic Sputnik V vaccine or the one-dose Sputnik Light vaccine on Thursday.

Russia had the largest official toll from Covid-19 in Europe, with 135,886 deaths, despite authorities being accused of downplaying the severity of the country’s outbreak.

Rosstat, the Russian statistics office, said at the end of April that at least 270,000 people had died as a result of the coronavirus.

  • Reuters