Russia rejects new lockdown despite record deaths from virus – .

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Russia rejects new lockdown despite record deaths from virus – .


Moscow (AFP)

Russia said on Friday it would not impose a new lockdown despite reporting a record number of coronavirus deaths for the fourth day in a row.

A government tally showed 679 pandemic-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, as Russia battles an outbreak caused by the highly infectious variant of the Delta and made worse by a late vaccination campaign.

Russia, the fifth most affected country in the world in terms of total number of cases, has refused to impose a full lockdown since the first wave of the pandemic last year. It continues to host mass events, including Euro 2020 football matches in St. Petersburg.

The surge in infections prompted President Vladimir Putin this week to once again urge Russians to get vaccinated during an annual televised telephone session with the nation.

The Kremlin stressed on Friday that a new lockdown was not an option.

“Nobody wants a lockdown, and yes, that’s not up for debate,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It is not discussed. “

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, recorded 101 deaths on Friday, slightly below its early-week record of 119.

Organizers have said the Euro 2020 quarter-final Spain v Switzerland later on Friday will go ahead despite high infection rates, in front of thousands of spectators.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the Delta variant now accounts for 90% of new cases in the city.

Sobyanin ordered offices to send home a third of their workforce, except for employees who had been vaccinated, and said 60% of people working in the service sector should be fully vaccinated by mid-year. August.

– “I want to feel safe” –

Restaurants in Moscow have been ordered to only allow inside customers who have been vaccinated or infected in the past six months.

The reluctance to vaccinate has been a huge challenge for Russian authorities, but the new restrictions appear to be working.

AFP journalists on Friday saw hundreds of people wait at vaccination points across the city of more than 12 million people.

“I’ve been in line for about two hours already,” student Svetlana Stepereva said in Sokolniki Park, northeast of Moscow.

The 21-year-old said it was time to get the shot, highlighting the increasingly stringent restrictions.

“I want to get a jab and feel safe. “

Mikhail Shutov, the head of a Moscow clinic, told AFP in the park that there was a marked increase in the number of people who wanted to be vaccinated.

“There are definitely more people who want to be vaccinated for the first time,” he said.

The Kremlin had set a target of fully inoculating 60% of Russia’s population by September, but conceded this week that it would not be able to meet that target, even though free jabs have been available since. early December.

Sobyanin this week urged Muscovites inoculated more than six months ago to be boosted with the local Sputnik V vaccine or single-dose Sputnik Light.

Russia, with 136,565 deaths from the virus, has the highest official Covid-19 toll in Europe – even though authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the country’s outbreak.

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