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Virus: Russia rejects idea of ​​containment despite outbreak of epidemic

The Kremlin on Friday dismissed the idea of ​​containment to fight against the deadly new wave of the Covid-19 epidemic which is hitting Russia hard, carried by the Delta variant and resulting in death records.

“Nobody wants lockdowns and (the question of their introduction) is not raised. And for it not to be, we must all get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the spokesperson for the Russian Presidency, Dmitry Peskov.

The comments follow the announcement of a new record of daily deaths in Russia in the past 24 hours – for the fourth day in a row – with 679 dead.

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Russia had implemented national containment in spring 2020, during the first wave. But the authorities have since refused to reintroduce this measure, in order to preserve a fragile economy.

The country also recorded 23,218 new infections on Friday, which is the highest figure since mid-January, when Russia was emerging from a second deadly wave.

“The situation is of course tense in several regions”, admitted Dmitry Peskov, while assuring that the authorities were working “intensely” to fight against “a perfidious enemy, the coronavirus and its new variants”.

The capital, Moscow, the main focus of the epidemic, and the country’s second city, Saint Petersburg (north-west), have for their part recorded 112 and 101 deaths respectively in the last 24 hours. Levels still close to their own records set at the start of the week.

The authorities, however, maintained the holding in Saint Petersburg on Friday of the quarter-final of the Euro football between Spain and Switzerland, which is to bring together thousands of supporters including foreigners.

The coronavirus epidemic has resumed since mid-June in Russia while the vaccination campaign is sluggish. Launched in December, it has so far convinced only 23.6 of 146 million Russians, or 16% of the population, which remains suspicious of national vaccines.

In several regions, the authorities have taken measures to encourage Russians to be vaccinated, for example with the introduction of a health pass to go to restaurants in the capital.

AFP saw long queues at a vaccination point in a Moscow shopping center on Friday morning, with more than 100 people waiting for the injection.

People wait to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in front of a vaccination center in Moscow on July 2, 2021 (AFP – Dimitar DILKOFF)

Moscow also launched a revaccination campaign on 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 the new variants.

Calling once again on his fellow citizens to be vaccinated, President Vladimir Putin urged Wednesday to “listen to the experts” and not to the rumors about the Covid-19, while opposing a national vaccination obligation.

Across the country, the pandemic has left more than 5.5 million infected and 136,565 dead, according to official figures. The Rosstat statistics agency, which has a broader definition of coronavirus-related deaths, for its part recorded 270,000 deaths at the end of April.

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