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Russia Ends Workplace Closures But COVID Figures Remain High

  • Most regions lift weeklong workplace restrictions
  • COVID-19 death toll in Russia near record
  • Immunologist warns too early to lift restrictions
  • Kremlin says it’s too early to assess the success of the curbs

MOSCOW, Nov. 8 (Reuters) – Most Russians returned to work on Monday for the first time in more than a week as the nationwide workplace closure was lifted in most areas, even so the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths hovers near daily records.

President Vladimir Putin announced last month that October 30 to November 7 would be paid “non-working days” – an attempt to slow the upsurge in cases by imposing the most stringent national restrictions since the early months of the pandemic. last year.

But officials on Monday reported 1,190 coronavirus-related deaths nationwide in the past 24 hours, more than the days before the forced labor break and just five below the record reported last Thursday.

There have been 39,400 new cases of COVID-19, up from a peak of 41,335 on Saturday.

The Kremlin said it was still early to judge the impact of the shutdown, but quoted the mayor of Moscow, a close ally of Putin, as saying the outbreak in the capital was stabilizing.

Despite the development of one of the first vaccines against COVID-19 infection last year, Russia has failed to persuade large sections of the population to accept it. Only about 40 percent of the population is immune.

Immunologist Nikolay Kryuchkov told Reuters he was skeptical of the effectiveness of the work break, which only a handful of Russia’s more than 80 regions have chosen to extend this week.

“I think it will either have a weak effect or a very weak effect,” Kryuchkov said. “It needs to be longer and more comprehensive… It’s not the same as a European lockdown. It’s a much softer version.”

Passengers wait before boarding a train at Kurskaya metro station, after some of the partial lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were lifted by local authorities, in Moscow, Russia, on November 8, 2021. REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina

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In Moscow, all stores except pharmacies and supermarkets were due to close, but some pubs and beauty salons were still operating.

Kryuchkov said that rather than loosening the borders, regions such as Moscow and St. Petersburg should expand them and keep them in place longer.

“I’m afraid there will be a significant period in which we will stay at the same point (in the pandemic) and then it will go down and the rate will slowly go down. It’s not a very good scenario,” he said. he declares. .

The Kremlin has said it is up to regional authorities to tailor their containment measures to the severity of the epidemics they face.

Many regions that have lifted the workplace closure will now require visitors to present a QR code on their mobile phones when going to cafes, restaurants or shopping malls to prove they have been vaccinated or have been vaccinated. ‘they have already had the virus.

The situation in the region surrounding Moscow has remained “tense”, but the number of people rushed to hospital has stabilized over the past week, a senior local health official said. TASS news agency.

The recent increase in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients has strained oxygen supplies, and the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet said it had handed over five tons of liquefied oxygen to help treat hospital patients, the Russian Navy reported. Interfax press agency.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Gleb Stolyarov, Maria Kiselyova, Polina Nikolskaya Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Peter Graff

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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