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Moscow Official Slams Slow Vaccination, Lax Mask-Wearing as Coronavirus Cases Double

With most nationwide restrictions lifted and life in Moscow all but returning to normal since the start of 2021, Russia has relied on its homegrown Sputnik V vaccine to tackle a new wave of Covid-19 infections.  Sergei Karpukhin / TASS

Moscow’s chief infectious disease specialist hit out Thursday at the city’s slow vaccination drive and residents not wearing masks in crowded places after coronavirus cases nearly doubled in the Russian capital overnight.

Doctor Nikolai Malyshev said both factors were behind a 74% increase in single-day infections that Moscow authorities confirmed earlier in the day. The spike was announced 24 hours after the Kremlin denied Bloomberg’s report that Russia is in the midst of a Covid-19 third wave.

“People are a little loose and not in a hurry to get vaccinated,” Malyshev told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

“The recent metro raids took place for a reason. I think it’s all linked [to the spike in cases] and the people are tired,” he said.

Russia’s coronavirus task force released figures of nearly 9,300 new Covid-19 infections nationwide and over 3,200 in Moscow on Thursday. Hours later, the Moscow Mayor’s Office announced new measures to prevent a surge in cases over the May 1-11 non-working period ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Authorities plan to monitor Covid-19 public safety measures in restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas during the long holiday but will not introduce additional restrictions, mayoral aide Alexei Nemeryuk said.

With most nationwide restrictions lifted and life in Moscow all but returning to normal since the start of 2021, Russia has relied on its homegrown Sputnik V vaccine to tackle a new wave of Covid-19 infections. 

But officials said this week that only 11.9 million people, or around 10% of Russia’s adult population, have received at least one dose of its three domestically made vaccines.

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin urged Russians to get vaccinated as he announced that he received his second vaccine dose.

Malyshev’s criticism also follows several Far Eastern Russian regions’ introduction of monetary incentives for at-risk groups and over-60s to boost vaccinations.

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