COVID-19: Putin begs Russians to get vaccinated

MOSCOW, Russia | President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a big week off in early November in Russia and implored the many die-hard to get vaccinated in a bid to contain a runaway COVID-19 outbreak.

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An example of the seriousness of the situation, the country, which is already the most disconsolate in Europe, recorded a new record of daily deaths from COVID-19 this Wednesday, with 1,028 deaths, as well as 34,073 contaminations, according to government figures. .

Russia has been facing an epidemic outbreak since June that the authorities have not been able to control, under the combined action of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, slow vaccination and weak sanitary restrictions.

In an attempt to stop the epidemic, Putin ordered to declare the period from October 30 to November 7 as non-working, a decision announced at the end of a government meeting dedicated to COVID-19.

The Russian president also gave the regions the possibility to start earlier or to extend the holiday week if the epidemic situation warrants it.

He also urged very recalcitrant Russians to get vaccinated.

“Please be responsible,” he said, “there are only two ways out of this (epidemic) time: getting sick or getting vaccinated.” He called Russia’s low vaccination rate “dangerous.”

In the past, the Russian president has decreed paid vacation periods several times in an attempt to curb the epidemic. Advertised for a short period, these non-working periods have sometimes been extended to long weeks.

Putin has always preferred this measure, aimed at limiting the movement of people and thus the virus, rather than confining the population, an unpopular restriction that also risks slowing the fragile economic recovery.

However, the Kremlin, which until then has mainly left the regions to take its own health measures, seems determined to act in the face of the deteriorating situation.

Delayed vaccination

Russia has so far recorded nearly 230,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to the government’s death toll which is largely underestimated as the national statistics agency Rosstat, for its part, tallied more than 400,000 deaths at the end of August. .

Faced with this observation, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Tuesday “urgent measures” to protect the most vulnerable categories, particularly the elderly, while the number of serious cases increases “day by day.”

Thus, the Moscow authorities have ordered the mandatory vaccination of 80% of public service employees, compared to the current 60%, on January 1, 2022, the confinement of all unvaccinated over 60 years from October 25 to February 25 and teleworking of “at least 30%” of the company’s staff.

For many experts, the battle against the virus is unfolding in the field of vaccination, where Russia, one of the first countries to develop a serum against COVID-19, is lagging behind.

In fact, less than a third of the 144 million Russians are fully vaccinated, according to the specialized Gogov site that establishes a daily report, the majority of the population remains skeptical of locally developed vaccines.

According to independent polls, more than half of Russians do not plan to get vaccinated.

Faced with this situation, the Kremlin seems to lose patience. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Tuesday called on Russians to be “more responsible” rather than “blame the state for everything.”

However, he admitted that the authorities had not done enough to explain to the Russians that “vaccination has no alternative.”

Faced with reluctance to vaccinate despite the outbreak of the epidemic, some Russian regions have reintroduced the obligation to present a health pass to access public places.

Thus, Saint Petersburg, the second city in the country, announced on Monday the establishment of said certificate from November 1 to access sporting or cultural events that bring together more than 40 people, and from December 1 to restaurants and shops .


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