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The Russian government has decided to delay a controversial bill requiring QR codes confirming vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 to access public places, despite increasing cases and warnings from senior officials about the highly infectious variant of the omicron

Russia reported 23,820 new infections on Friday, a 12% increase from the previous day, and 739 deaths.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said the legislation has been postponed due to “high uncertainty” as the bill was originally prepared in response to the delta variant, but “new challenges” have arisen.

The bill required Russians wishing to access certain public places to have a QR code confirming vaccination, their recent recovery from COVID-19, or a medical exemption from vaccination.

The initiative, along with another bill proposing a similar system for domestic and international planes and trains, has met strong resistance amid a population largely skeptical of vaccines. The transport bill was withdrawn from parliament last month, but the public places bill passed first reading.

Golikova said the bill will be amended to allow Russians with negative tests to obtain QR codes at short notice.

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said the bill would be withdrawn from parliament while the government made changes.

QR code requirements are already in place in some parts of Russia and vary from region to region. They are mainly used for travel, to access public spaces such as museums and theaters.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called the virus situation in the country “very difficult” and urged the government to prepare. Russia has confirmed 698 cases of omicron variants.

Golikova has vowed to present new response measures by the end of the week.

The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other strains of coronavirus and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had already been infected with previous versions of the virus. However, early studies show that omicron is less likely to cause serious illness than the previous delta variant.

The Russian State Coronavirus Task Force has recorded more than 10.7 million confirmed infections and 319,911 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Russia’s national statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, estimates the death toll to be much higher, saying the total number of virus-related deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 was over 625,000 .

Russia only had one nationwide lockdown, in 2020, and in October of that year many Russians were ordered out of work for a week amid an increase in infections. and deaths. However, authorities have generally resisted shutting down businesses or imposing strict restrictions.


ABC News

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