Russia continues to report high Covid cases despite nationwide paid holiday

Russia continued to report a rising number of COVID-19 cases despite the country nearing the end of a nationwide paid holiday that was imposed last month to help curb the spread of the virus.

On Saturday, which was the last day of the paid holiday period, Russia registered 41,335 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number for new infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country also reported 1,188 coronavirus deaths during the same period.

With over 8.7 million cases registered since the start of the pandemic, Russia is one of the worst-hit countries in the world and a devastating wave this autumn has seen infections and deaths reach new records.

Although Russia has rolled out several homegrown vaccines, including Sputnik V, only about a third of the population is fully inoculated.

Officials cite Russia’s low vaccination rate as a major factor in the sharp rise in cases that began in mid-September.

President Vladimir Putin last month ordered a paid holiday from October 30 to November 7 in a bid to curb soaring infections and deaths exacerbated by a slow vaccination drive.

Several regions, including Novgorod in the northwest, Tomsk in Siberia, the Chelyabinsk region in the Ural Mountains and Kursk and Bryansk regions southwest of Moscow, have extended the nonworking period through the end of next week.

Moscow’s mayor said the situation in the capital had stabilized sufficiently for people to return to work there on Monday.

Russian authorities have been accused of playing down the pandemic.

According to the figures from the state statistical service Rosstat, in October, nearly twice as many Covid deaths were reported compared with the government tally, indicating that the virus’ impact is significantly more severe.

(With inputs from agencies)