Russia reports record-high COVID-19 deaths

New figures bring Russia’s total fatalities from COVID-19 to 168,864 – the highest toll in Europe.

Gravediggers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) bury a body at a graveyard on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, Russia June 25, 2021 [File: Anton Vaganov/Reuters]

Russia has recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll for a second day running, as a third wave of infections persists despite efforts from authorities to boost vaccinations.

A government tally on Friday showed 815 fatalities over the past 24 hours and 22,277 new cases.

Russia, the fourth worst-hit country in the world in terms of cases, has since mid-June been hit by a new wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The new figures bring Russia’s total fatalities from COVID-19 to 168,864 – the highest toll in Europe.

This figure, however, only takes into account deaths where the virus was established as the primary cause of death after an autopsy.

Under a broader definition for deaths linked to the coronavirus, statistics agency Rosstat said that Russia has seen more than 300,000 fatalities as of the end of June.

Authorities have faced a vaccine-sceptic population, with a poll by the independent Levada Center this week showing that 55 percent of Russians do not plan on getting inoculated.

Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, and a host of regions have introduced mandatory vaccination measures to speed up the country’s inoculation drive, and President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called on Russians to get vaccinated.

While Russia has three homegrown vaccines available to the population, it does not distribute any of the Western-made jabs.

But as of Friday, just over 30 million of Russia’s 146 million people had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies COVID data from the regions.

Moscow on Friday proceeded with lifting virus restrictions with mayor Sergei Sobyanin cancelling the obligation for employers to keep at least 30 percent of employees working from home.

Sobyanin said on his website that the pandemic “continues to retreat” and the number of new hospitalisations in the capital has more than halved when compared with mid-June.

In total, Russia has so far registered 6,557,068 cases.

Source: Reuters