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Russia's coronavirus death toll continues climbing with new record

President declares non-working days throughout country with preservation of wages for working people from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7

Elena Teslova   | 20.10.2021
Russia's coronavirus death toll continues climbing with new record


 Russia's coronavirus death toll continued to climb on Wednesday with a new record as 1,028 more patients died, taking the total number of fatalities to 226,353 over the past day.

With 34,073 new infections, Russia's active COVID-19 cases hit 802,760, while the overall count stands at over 8.09 million, the country's coronavirus emergency task force said in a daily report.

Recoveries went up by 25,231 since Tuesday to reach 7.06 million, the report added.

Speaking via videoconference with the government members, President Vladimir Putin stressed that recently, the spread of the virus in many regions across Russia "has grown significantly."

"At the same time, the level of vaccination of citizens remains, unfortunately, still low, which largely determines the speed of the spread of the infection. Obviously, these conditions require an adequate and prompt response from the authorities," he said.

Putin underlined that the government's main task is to protect the life and health of citizens as much as possible and to minimize the negative consequences of a "dangerous infection."

He went on to say that it is necessary to expand the volume of testing to timely identify the infected.

"Now it is especially important to bring down the peak of the new wave of the pandemic. In this regard, taking into account the current situation, of course, I support your proposal, dear colleagues, to declare non-working days throughout the country with the preservation of wages for working people from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 inclusive," he said.

As part of additional measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Putin said the local authorities across the country may also additionally set non-working days without waiting for Oct. 30, or, if necessary, extend these non-working days to a period after Nov. 7.

'Situation deteriorating'

Speaking at a government meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin noted "a significant increase in the infection rate" and urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The situation with the coronavirus is deteriorating. In this context, we all need to strictly abide by sanitary and epidemiological requirements. Getting a coronavirus vaccine is essential. By getting a jab you not only show that you care about yourself and your close ones, but also help doctors, nursing staff, and other medical workers, and ambulance drivers who are working under tremendous stress with little sleep or rest," he said.

For his part, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko noted "a rapid increase in the number of patients" as the main distinguishing feature of the current period.

"We are exceeding the 2020 period in terms of this increase. First of all, of course, this problem is linked with the number of vaccinated patients because people who did not get the jab on time now account for the lion’s share of all patients," he said.

According to the minister, "the number of serious cases of unvaccinated patients has soared in absolute terms."

"Every intensive care specialist hears patients saying that they regret not getting the jab, but these people are already in intensive care, and it is very hard to rectify this situation," he said.

Collective immunity

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, in turn, noted that collective immunity in Russia currently stands at over 45%.

She proposed a set of additional measures to reduce the epidemiological tension not only around Russia but also in specific regions.

Golikova said she asked Putin to announce a nationwide non-working period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 and in the regions with the difficult situation from Oct. 23 to Nov. 7.

Another recommendation is to return to visiting public places with QR-codes that confirm vaccination or negative PCR test results, while controls of observing epidemiological measures will be toughened, she said.

The authorities also suggested employers transfer their staff over the age of 60 to remote work for at least four weeks so that they get vaccinated, and give all the other staff two days off for getting a jab, she said.

​​​Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed more than 4.91 million lives in 192 countries and regions, with over 241.7 million cases reported worldwide, according to the US' Johns Hopkins University.

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