1,028 more COVID deaths in Russia as non-workweek considered
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's coronavirus deaths surged to another daily record Wednesday as soaring infections prompted the Cabinet to suggest declaring a nonworking week to stem contagion.
The government task force reported 1,028 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought the total death toll to 226,353 — by far the highest in Europe.
Amid a spike in infections and deaths, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova suggested introducing a nonworking period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days already are state holidays. The proposal is yet to be authorized by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The daily coronavirus mortality numbers have been surging for weeks and topped 1,000 for the first time over the weekend amid sluggish vaccination rates, lax public attitude toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions. About 45 million Russians, or 32% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated.
Even though Russia in August 2020 became the first country of the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine and vaccines are plentiful, Russians have shown hesitancy about getting the shots, a skepticism blamed on conflicting signals sent by authorities.
While extolling Sputnik V and three other domestic vaccines, state-controlled media were often critical of Western-made shots, a controversial message that many saw as feeding public doubts about vaccines in general.
Until now, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that dealt a heavy blow to the economy and sapped Putin’s popularity, empowering regional authorities across the country's 11 time zones to decide on local restrictions, depending on their...