Russia reports record daily Covid deaths

A serviceman of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry wearing protective gear is seen in a bus while disinfecting Moscow’s Leningradsky railway station on October 19, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic. – Russia has officially recorded 1,015 coronavirus deaths on October 19, up from 998 the previous day, and 33,740 new Covid-19 cases, down from 34,325. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia said Wednesday 1,028 people died of Covid over the past 24 hours, a new record, as President Vladimir Putin mulls introducing nationwide restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.

The country recorded 34,074 new coronavirus cases, according to a government tally.

Russian officials have been accused of downplaying the severity of the pandemic, but even the official figures bring the country’s official Covid-19 death toll to 226,353 — the highest in Europe.

Virus cases have soared in Russia amid a stalled vaccination campaign, with only 35 percent of the population fully inoculated despite the homegrown Sputnik V jab being widely available.

Later Wednesday Putin is expected to rule on a government proposal to introduce a nationwide week-long holiday at the end of the month to curb the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the city’s first coronavirus restrictions since the summer.

He told unvaccinated over-60s in the capital to work from home and extended mandatory vaccinations for service workers. Those restrictions take effect next Monday and are set to last until the end of February.

Sobyanin also told employers to move 30 percent of their staff to home working.

The surge in cases has come without any strict restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus, although several regions have re-introduced QR codes for access to public places.

Figures published by statistics agency Rosstat in October suggested that more than 400,000 people have died in the country from the Covid disease.

© Agence France-Presse