Russia imposes nationwide paid holiday to curb Covid cases
President Vladimir Putin last week ordered a paid holiday from today to 7 November in a bid to break a recent chain of records in daily cases and deaths.
Russia has held back on imposing significant nationwide measures since ending a short lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic and instead placed its hopes on the rollout of several homegrown vaccines, including Sputnik V.
Even though several jabs have been freely available for months, just 32.5% of the population have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest government statistics.
The Kremlin this week said epidemiologists had raised “concerns” after polls cited by news agencies showed one-third of Russians planned to travel during the holiday period.
Regions across the country have imposed some virus restrictions but the most stringent began this week in Moscow – the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak – with non-essential services shuttered.
Russian authorities have been accused of downplaying the pandemic and figures from statistics agency Rosstat yesterday showed nearly twice as many Covid deaths compared with the government tally.
Rosstat said 44,265 people died of coronavirus in September – nearly double the official government figure.
This would bring the agency’s toll of Covid-19 deaths in Russia to nearly 450,000, the highest in Europe.