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29 Jun, 2021 10:28

Russia records highest official Covid-19 death toll since start of pandemic, as nation fights sharp rise in cases of Delta variant

Russia records highest official Covid-19 death toll since start of pandemic, as nation fights sharp rise in cases of Delta variant

At least 652 people infected with coronavirus have died in Russia within the latest 24-hour recording period, government officials announced Tuesday morning. It marks the country’s single most deadly day since the pandemic began.

The Covid-19 operational headquarters reported the grim milestone amid a steep rise in the number of positive tests for the infection over the past fortnight. More than 134,500 people are confirmed to have died with the virus overall since last March.

The largest number of daily deaths were recorded in Moscow, which accounted for 121 of the fatalities. The capital has consistently been the focal point for outbreaks, leading in both the current number of infections and the total number of deaths. However, Russia’s second city, St Petersburg, also registered 119 fatalities, suggesting the situation there is worsening.

Also on rt.com With infectious Delta strain on rise, Moscow to require proof of Covid-19 vaccination or negative test to visit bars & restaurants

The number of diagnosed cases began rising quickly at the beginning of June, having previously fallen from record highs in December and plateaued at below 9,000 for several months.

Last week, the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, revealed that around 90% of cases in the city are estimated to have been caused by the infectious new Delta variant, which is thought to have originated in India. The mutated form of Covid-19 has been blamed for a resurgence of infections across the US and much of Europe. Sobyanin said that the situation is “rapidly deteriorating,” and the sudden rise in cases is “quite unexpected” given previously estimated levels of immunity among the population.

Also on rt.com Moscow orders ‘mandatory’ vaccination against Covid-19 for some workers serving the public as cases soar in Europe’s largest city

Low levels of vaccine uptake compared to a number of other European countries have been repeatedly cited as a challenge in Russia, with polls showing many people are skeptical of the jab. However, in the past few days, queues for appointments have been reported and at least two cities have run short of doses after tough new measures were put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 and boost the numbers of those being immunized.

Moscow has demanded that companies in sectors like hospitality, transport and leisure ensure 60% of their workers are immunized, or else face hefty fines. Officials have confirmed that bosses can suspend employees without pay in order to meet the quotas. Similar rules have now been put in place elsewhere, including in St. Petersburg.

Also on rt.com Two Far Eastern Russian cities SUSPEND Covid-19 vaccinations, with demand for doses soaring as country fights spike in new cases

As of Monday, the Russian capital is also requiring residents to scan a QR code when entering bars, cafes, pubs, food courts and other public spaces. Only those who have proof of vaccination or were officially recorded as a coronavirus case within the past six months will be eligible for unrestricted access, while others seeking admission indoors will have to provide a negative PCR test from within the previous three days.

Russia's Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova has objected to the move, labelling it “a dishonest game.” She said that “the mechanisms by which it is being implemented are giving rise to mass psychosis and making people fear coercion.”

However, two new polls released last week found that almost half of Russians surveyed back the new measures in Moscow, while 61% of those asked by researchers now plan to get vaccinated in the near future.

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