Russia reported 697 COVID-related deaths on Saturday, the largest number of confirmed cases in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Saturday, the number of deaths from the coronavirus in Russia hit a record high for the fifth consecutive day. The authorities reported that 697 people died due to the rapid increase in the number of infections in the country.
The previous record on Friday was 679.
The Russian National Coronavirus Task Force reported 24,439 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest daily record since January and 1,200 more than the previous day. Moscow and its surrounding areas and St. Petersburg accounted for nearly half of the new cases on Saturday.
Officials attribute the surge to infectious delta variants and tepid demand for vaccines.
The Kremlin insisted on Friday that the authorities would not discuss another blockade. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that the coronavirus situation in many areas is still “tensed”, but said that “no one wants any lockdown.”
Moscow is the worst-hit region in the entire Russian pandemic, with 7,446 cases reported on Saturday, while St. Petersburg, which hosted the Euro 2020 quarter-finals between Spain and Switzerland on Friday night, reported 1,733 cases and 110 deaths. Photos of the city’s fan zone show that many people did not mandate to cover their mouths and noses.
Russia had hoped that its vaccination campaign would contain the new wave, but it was widely suspected and slowly promoted, with only 16% of its 146 million population being slammed.
Frightened by the surge in new cases, officials have taken a series of measures to force or encourage people to get vaccinated.
In Moscow, where there has been no strict lockdown since last summer, officials now prohibit people from going to cafes, bars and restaurants unless they can show proof of vaccination, immunity or negative test.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin told residents that more than 2.7 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. He said that about 60-70,000 people are vaccinated every day, and said he hopes that the number of people receiving the first dose of the vaccine next week will reach 3 million.
At a location in the capital, 21-year-old student Svetlana Stepereva told AFP that she had been waiting in line for the COVID-19 vaccine for about two hours.
“I want to get an injection and feel safe,” she said.