Russia said that 11 percent of its patients hospitalized from COVID-19 are in serious or critical condition as the country faces yet another surge of infections due to low vaccination rates and reluctance to impose a new national lockdown.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the dramatic rise in infections is putting a heavy strain on Russia’s health care system. Hospitals are filled with 235,000 COVID-19 patients, Murashko said.
On Tuesday, Russia hit another record high number of daily COVID-19 deaths, which the country has already done multiple times this month. Despite the rapid surge of infections and strain on the healthcare system, lawmakers have refused to impose another nationwide lockdown.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Russia reported a record high number of COVID-19 deaths multiple times this month, breaking the record again on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. A man rests on a bench in a sunny autumn day in downtown Moscow on Oct. 9, 2021, as Russia hit another record high number of COVID-19 deaths.
AFP via Getty Images/Dimitar Dilkoff
The government coronavirus task force reported 973 coronavirus deaths, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic. Russia has repeatedly hit record daily death tolls this month, and daily infections also have been hovering near all-time highs, with 28,190 new cases reported Tuesday.
Despite the rapidly mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to make decisions on toughening coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.
Overall, Russia’s coronavirus task force has registered over 7.8 million confirmed cases and 218,345 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe. Yet the state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasn’t considered the main cause, has reported a much higher total — about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19.
If that higher number is used, Russia would be the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world during the pandemic, after the United States, Brazil and India. Even the lower mortality figure only shifts Russia down to fifth place, after Mexico.
The Russian government has blamed the sharp rise in infections and deaths that began last month on a slow vaccination rate. Only 47.8 million Russians, or almost 33 percent of its nearly 146 million people, have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 42.4 million, about 29 percent, were fully vaccinated, the government said Friday.
Some Russian regions have restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.
But life remains largely normal in Moscow, St. Petersburg and many other Russian cities, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced. In Moscow, the authorities expanded free coronavirus tests in shopping malls, hoping it would help stem contagion.
Russia’s daily coronavirus infections and deaths are hovering near all-time highs amid a laggard vaccination rate and the Kremlin’s reluctance to toughen restrictions. Medical workers carry a patient suspected of having coronavirus on a stretcher at a hospital in Kommunarka, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo