MOSCOW – Russia on Saturday (Oct 16) topped 1,000 deaths over 24 hours for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the country’s jab drive at a standstill and few restrictions in place.
An official government tally showed 1,002 deaths and 33,208 new infections, setting a high for both fatalities and cases for the third day in a row.
The surging outbreak has come with just 31 per cent of Russians fully inoculated as at Saturday, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid-19 data from the regions.
A lack of tough restrictions has allowed the virus to spread unchecked, though a number of regions have re-introduced QR codes for access to public places.
The Kremlin has avoided re-introducing major restrictions despite calling the country’s vaccination rate “unacceptably” low, saying this week authorities have to ensure “the economy continues working”.
It also said that Russia’s medical system is prepared to take in the rising number of patients, describing it as not “overwhelmed”.
The authorities have blamed Russians for the growing outbreak.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko this week pointed to their “behaviour”, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said everything had been done to give the public the chance to “save their lives by getting vaccinated”.
While several Russian-developed jabs have been available for months, the authorities have struggled to inoculate a vaccine-sceptic population.
Independent polls show that more than half of Russians do not plan to get a shot.
Russia’s fatalities from Covid-19 now stand at 222,315 – the highest toll in Europe – even as the authorities are accused of downplaying the severity of Russia’s outbreak.
Under a broader definition of deaths linked to the virus, the Rosstat statistics agency has said that by the end of August more than 400,000 people in Russia had died with the coronavirus.