Russia reports 697 COVID-related deaths on Saturday, the most confirmed in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record high on Saturday for the fifth day in a row, with authorities reporting 697 deaths as the country faces a rapid wave of infections.
Friday’s previous record was 679.
The Russian state coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 24,439 new cases of coronavirus – the highest daily tally since January and 1,200 more than the day before. Moscow, its outlying region and St. Petersburg accounted for nearly half of Saturday’s new cases.
Officials attribute the outbreak to the infectious delta variant and low demand for vaccination.
The Kremlin insisted on Friday that authorities were not discussing another lockdown. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the situation with the coronavirus remains “tense” in a number of regions, but said “no one wants a lockdown”.
Moscow, the worst-affected region throughout the pandemic in Russia, reported 7,446 cases on Saturday, while St. Petersburg – which hosted a Euro 2020 quarter-final between Spain and Switzerland on Friday evening – reported 1,733 cases and 110 deaths. Images from the city’s fan zones showed many people without the mandatory mouth and nose coverage.
Russia had hoped its vaccination campaign would stem a new wave, but it has encountered widespread skepticism and slow deployment, with just 16% of the 146 million people affected.
Frightened by the new wave of cases, authorities have imposed a series of measures to force or encourage people to get vaccinated.
In Moscow, which has not had a strict lockdown since last summer, authorities have now banned people from going to cafes, bars and restaurants unless they can show proof of vaccination, immunity or a negative test.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told residents that more than 2.7 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. He said around 60,000 to 70,000 people were vaccinated daily and said he hoped the number of people who received a first dose would reach 3 million next week.
At a site in the capital, Svetlana Stepereva, a 21-year-old student, told AFP news agency that she had been lining up to get her COVID-19 vaccine for about two hours.
“I want to get a jab and feel safe,” she said.