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Russia sets new daily COVID-19 death record

Russia sets new daily COVID-19 death record

MOSCOW (AP) Russia on Wednesday reported a new daily rate of coronavirus deaths, citing sluggish vaccination rates and the governments reluctance to tighten restrictions.

984 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, the pandemic's highest level, according to the government coronevirus task force. 28,717 confirmed new cases were reported Wednesday, setting new record-breaking death tolls for the country in recent weeks as infections hit all-time highs.

The Kremlin has blamed the rise in contagion and deaths on a sluggish vaccination rate for the increase. 43 million Russians, or about 29% of the country's nearly 146 million people, have been fully vaccinated, according to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin has stressed the need to increase the vaccination rate, but he has cautioned against requiring people to get the shots by applying administrative pressure. Experts have blamed the slow pace of vaccination on widespread vaccine skepticism and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one that occurred during the first months of the epidemic that severely damaged the economy and damaged Putin's ratings, delegating the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

People who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19, or tested negative in the previous 72 hours have restricted access to theaters, restaurants, and other venues in some Russian states.

But in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a host of other Russian cities, life is largely normal, with firms operating as usual and mask laws loosely enforced. In Moscow, the authorities began to offer free coronavirus tests in shopping malls, hoping it would help stem the spread of the virus.

The escalating incidence of infectious diseases have increased the pressure on Russias health care system, with hospitals filling up quickly. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said 11% of Russias 235,000 COVID-19 patients are in critical or serious condition during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Overall, Russias coronavirus task force has recorded more than 7.8 million confirmed cases and 219,329 deaths the highest death toll in Europe. The state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasnt considered the principal cause, has reported a much higher number of pandemic deaths about 418,000 deaths of COVID-19 patients.

Russia would be the fourth-hardest-hit nation in the world during the epidemic, after the United States, Brazil, and India, if that higher number is used. Even with a lower mortality rate, Russia is only moved up to fifth place, after Mexico.

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Follow AP's coverage of the epidemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic/ for more information.

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