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Russia: Omicron cases triple in ten days as authorities consider how to stem it

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Russia: Omicron cases triple in ten days as authorities consider how to stem it

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New daily COVID-19 infections in Russia have hit an all-time high, with authorities blaming the highly contagious variant of Omicron, which they say will soon dominate the outbreak in the country.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova noted the “intensive spread of the Omicron variant” and said authorities expect it to become the dominant strain causing the outbreak.

The state’s coronavirus task force reported 49,513 new infections on the same day – the highest so far in the pandemic.

Record numbers of 15,987 new cases and 5,922 cases were reported in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, respectively.

In light of the outbreak, health officials in St. Petersburg have limited elective outpatient care.

Golikova urged Russians who were vaccinated or cured of the virus more than six months ago to “go to a vaccination point again” to protect themselves with a booster.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered cabinet members to hold online meetings and have their staff work remotely “whenever possible”.

Nearly half of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated despite the country being among the first in the world to approve and deploy a COVID-19 vaccine.

In Russia, anyone who received their primary vaccination more than six months ago has been entitled to a booster since July.

Gogov.ru, an independent website that tracks vaccinations, estimates that 8.8 million people have received a booster shot since then, out of about 21.8 million who qualify.

New daily infections in Russia have been rising steadily since January 10, when just over 15,000 new cases were recorded – a number that tripled on Friday, topping 49,000 in less than two weeks. Friday’s daily tally was more than 10,000 higher than the previous day.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force has recorded 324,752 deaths since the start of the pandemic – the worst toll in Europe by far.

Russia’s national statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, has further increased the number of deaths from the pandemic, saying the total number of virus-related deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 was over 625,000. .

Russian authorities admit that the current outbreak could become the largest in the country to date, but so far have not announced any major restrictions to contain it.

A nationwide lockdown was not being discussed, officials said, and last week the government decided to indefinitely postpone the introduction of restrictions for unvaccinated people, which would have been hugely unpopular. among vaccine-hesitant Russians.

Earlier this week, Golikova also announced a decision to reduce the required isolation period for those infected with COVID-19 from 14 to seven days, although it is still unclear when this will take effect.

Authorities say the spike in infections so far has not led to an increase in hospitalizations.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the current outbreak is putting more pressure on outpatient care facilities than on hospitals in the city of nearly 13 million people. Municipal authorities have increased the number of doctors on duty in outpatient clinics.

Russia: Omicron cases triple in ten days as authorities consider how to stem it

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