- Russia reported 1,028 COVID deaths in 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
- The largest number of fatalities were reported in the country’s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- There was also a rapid increase in the number of positive tests for the virus, with 34,073 people confirmed to have been infected over the same period.
Russia’s workers were ordered to stay off work for a week starting later this month amid soaring numbers of new COVID-19 infection and deaths.
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved government’s plans to order workers across the country a week off, in a bid to halt a sharp spike in the number of deaths from coronavirus.
Russian government task force on Wednesday reported 1,028 COVID deaths during the previous 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought Russia’s total death toll to 226,353, which is by far the highest in Europe.
At a meeting of government officials on Wednesday, Putin gave the go-ahead for preparations to extend a two-day planned national holiday and keep many employees at home, with pay, for a full week.
Under the plans, offices will be closed nationwide between October 30 and November 7, but Putin added that in some regions where the situation is the most threatening, the non-working period could start as early as Saturday and be extended after November 7.
According to Putin, it is now vital that Russia “breaks the chain of the spread of the virus… Our main task now is to protect the lives of citizens and, as far as possible, minimize the spread of COVID-19 infections.”
The plan also proposes to transfer all unvaccinated employees older than 60 to a remote-working arrangement for the next month, and offer staff two separate days on which to go and get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Russia’s daily COVID-19 mortality numbers have been surging for weeks and topped 1,000 for the first time during the weekend amid sluggish vaccination rates, lax public attitudes towards taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.
About 45 million Russians, or 32 percent of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.
In some regions, mounting infections forced authorities to suspend medical assistance to the population as healthcare facilities were forced to focus on treating coronavirus patients.
In Moscow, however, life has continued as usual, with restaurants and movie theatres brimming with people, crowds swarming nightclubs and karaoke bars and commuters widely ignoring mask mandates on public transportation, even as intensive care units have filled in recent weeks.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian officials announced that the country had recorded the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic last year and that the largest number of fatalities were reported in the country’s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg.