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Russia moving back into lockdown as Covid-19 deaths hit record high

Russia hits highest coronavirus death rate on Monday, as President Vladimir Putin mulls introducing nationwide restrictions to curb the spread of the disease. (Photo by AFP)

Russia, one of the hardest-hit countries, recorded 1,069 coronavirus-related fatalities on Monday, the highest single-day death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

The country, which accounts for 40 percent of all new cases in eastern Europe, also reported more than 37 thousand fresh Covid-19 infections.

To stem the growing tide of Covid-19 deaths and infections, authorities in Russia are moving to introduce tougher restrictions from next week, including shutting down all non-emergency businesses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a national “non-working week” starting October 30 to control the spread of the virus, in which employers are asked to pay the least minimum wage to non-essential workers to stay home.

The country has so far vaccinated about 33 percent of its population with at least one dose, which is lower than the global average of 37 percent.

The reluctance to get vaccinated is believed to be fueling the alarming surge of new infections in Russia, according to health experts.  

A recent study by Reuters found that 120 people were testing positive every five minutes in the country.

The study further said that countries in the worst-affected region of eastern Europe have the lowest vaccination rates, with less than half of the population receiving a single vaccine jab.

World Health Organisation (WHO), an agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, has asked governments with low vaccine rates to tighten up restrictions in order to control the virus surge.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned that the pandemic is “far from over”.

“Complacency is now as dangerous as the virus. Now is the time to be on heightened alert, not to let down your guard,” he was quoted as saying.

Many eastern European countries have had difficulty moving quickly with vaccination efforts due to the widespread public hesitancy, according to reports.

New COVID-19 infections in the region have surged alarmingly in recent months, averaging over 83,700 new cases per day. Russia, Ukraine and Romania are the countries with highest pandemic fatalities.

Bulgarian has the lowest vaccination rate in the European Union. While vaccines are widely available, only 25 percent of all the adults have been vaccinated.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, of the people in Bulgarian who died from coronavirus, 94 percent were unvaccinated.

Just over a third of the adult population has been fully vaccinated in Romania. The country reported record number of daily coronavirus fatalities and infections last Tuesday.

The virus has been killing one person every five minutes this month with inoculation program abysmally slow.

In the UK, hospitals continue to be stretched to their limit with death rate far higher than many of its European neighbors.   

UK Government health advisors last week said measures that can help slow the spread of the disease, such as tele-working, might be necessary to be re-imposed.  

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