Russia's daily virus toll passes 1000

Scepticism and conflicting signals from officials has stymied Russia's vaccination efforts.
Camera IconScepticism and conflicting signals from officials has stymied Russia's vaccination efforts. Credit: AP

Russia's daily death toll from COVID-19 has exceeded 1000 for the first time as the country faces a sustained wave of rising infections.

The national coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 1002 deaths in the previous day, up from 999 on Friday, along with 33,208 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than 1000 higher than the day before.

Authorities have tried to speed up the pace of vaccinations with lotteries, bonuses and other incentives but widespread vaccine scepticism and conflicting signals from officials has stymied the efforts.

The government said this week about 43 million Russians, or about 29 per cent of the country's nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.

Despite the mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown such as the one early on in the pandemic that badly hurt the economy, eroding President Vladimir Putin's popularity.

Instead, it has delegated the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

Some of Russia's 85 regions have restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theatres, restaurants and other venues.

However, daily life is going on largely as normal in Moscow, St Petersburg and many other Russian cities, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko acknowledged this week that medical facilities had come under growing strain and said authorities had offered retired medics who had been vaccinated the option of returning to work.

Overall, the coronavirus task force has registered more than 7,958,000 confirmed cases and 222,315 deaths - Europe's highest death toll.

The official record ranks Russia as having the fifth-most pandemic deaths in the world following the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

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