MOSCOW: Russia’s main coronavirus hotspots Moscow and Saint Petersburg set new pandemic highs for deaths from the virus on Monday, an official tally showed, as the country battles a deadly third wave, reports AFP.
The new records come as the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India drives a surge of new coronavirus cases that has been worsened by a sluggish vaccination campaign.The Russian capital on Monday reported 124 deaths from Covid while second city Saint Petersburg reported 110, topping records both cities had set over the weekend.
Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, has rushed to introduce new restrictions to brace against the new wave after life had all but returned to normal for months.
Businesses were ordered to send home 30 percent of non-vaccinated employees, while restaurants are now only authorised to allow inside patrons who have been inoculated or infected in the previous six months.
Saint Petersburg, meanwhile, has hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is due to host a quarter-final on Friday, with spectator numbers capped at half but still upwards of 26,000 people.
While the city has tightened some restrictions, including banning food sales at its Euro 2020 fan zones, authorities on Friday allowed high school graduation celebrations to go ahead including a packed concert that drew thousands.
Russia’s latest coronavirus surge has been worsened by a slow inoculation drive.Despite free jabs having been available since December, as of Monday just 21.2 million out of a population of about 146 million had received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid figures from the regions and the media.
To counter a population sceptical of vaccines, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin earlier this month ordered mandatory vaccinations for service sector employees.
As of Monday, at least 16 of Russia’s 85 regions had followed suit.
Russia, with 133,893 deaths from the virus, has the highest toll from Covid-19 in Europe.