The Russian government on Saturday recorded 697 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, a record for the fifth day in a row as the country was hit hard by the Delta variant.
On Saturday, Russia recorded 24,439 new infections, the highest since mid-January, when the country emerged from its second deadly wave.
The capital of Moscow, the center of the epidemic, has recorded 116 deaths in the past 24 hours, very close to its own record set earlier this week.
Since mid-June, the coronavirus epidemic has resumed in Russia amid sluggish vaccination. Launched in December, it has so far convinced only 23.6 of 146 million Russians, or 16% of the population, who remain suspicious of national vaccines.
In several regions, including Moscow, authorities have taken steps to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, for example, by enacting a health passport for visiting a restaurant in the capital.
Moscow also launched a revaccination campaign Thursday for those who received their first two doses more than six months ago. They are offered a third injection to further strengthen their defenses against new options.
Once again urging his fellow citizens to get vaccinated, President Vladimir Putin called on Wednesday to “listen to experts,” rather than rumors of COVID-19, opposing a national vaccination commitment.
The Kremlin, which has admitted it cannot meet its target of 60% vaccinated by August, is now abandoning any restrictions at the national level to keep the economy fragile.
The pandemic has so far caused more than 5.5 million infections and 137,262 fatalities across the country, according to official figures. The statistical agency Rosstat, which has a broader definition of coronavirus deaths, for its part recorded 270,000 deaths at the end of April.