MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia reported a fourth straight daily record of COVID-19 deaths on Friday, with still a week to go before the start of a nationwide workplace shutdown ordered by President Vladimir Putin to try to curb a rise in infections.
Authorities said 1,064 people had died in the previous 24 hours, with new infections hitting a second successive daily record at 37,141.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin’s decision to declare the period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 as “non-working days” would provide an opportunity to break the chain of infections, but described the situation as “extremely difficult.”
Asked if more drastic measures might be considered, he said: “Right now, no… There is not a single person who can predict the trajectory of the pandemic with a high degree of confidence.”
He did not rule out the possibility of further measures being taken beyond Nov. 7 if necessary, and once again blamed the situation on negative public attitudes towards getting vaccinated.
“Our vaccination program is going worse than a number of European countries. Fewer people are being vaccinated and more people are getting sick as new, more aggressive strains emerge. That is the reality that is taking place,” he said.
Putin has told regional authorities they can introduce further restrictions at their discretion.
Moscow has ordered unvaccinated over-60s to stay at home for four months from Monday, and from next Thursday will reimpose the strictest lockdown measures since June last year, with only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets allowed to remain open.
(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov and Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Nick Macfie)