Russia registered its highest number of one-day coronavirus deaths and infections since the start of the pandemic Thursday as scientists warn of a potentially more infectious variant of the deadly Delta strain further overwhelming hospitals.
The government’s coronavirus information center reported 1,036 fatalities and 36,339 cases over the past 24 hours.
Russia has repeatedly broken new all-time high numbers of Covid-19 deaths over the last three weeks amid stubbornly low vaccination rates. It is currently reporting the second-highest daily fatalities in the world after the United States.
The information center’s official death toll stands at 227,389 — Europe’s highest. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the pandemic is at least 660,000, according to The Moscow Times’ analysis.
Russia’s senior scientist warned earlier on Thursday that geneticists have detected a new and more contagious sub-variant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus, AY.4.2, in isolated cases across the country.
Thursday’s records come nine days ahead of a planned nationwide “non-working” week designed to stem the relentless spread of infections during the fourth wave of the pandemic.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday authorized regional leaders to extend these restrictions beyond the stated Nov. 7 end date if the caseload does not shrink.
Authorities in Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s Covid-19 outbreak, warned businesses that the capital will go into a strict “short-term lockdown” if infections continue to rise, according to a document seen by The Moscow Times.
Just one in three Russians have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 while polls show the majority of the population still reluctant to take one of the domestically-developed shots. The Kremlin has this week admitted that it had not sufficiently promoted the vaccine among Russians despite its wide availability since last year.
The Russian government says it has at least two months’ worth of vaccine supplies left, with plans to manufacture more than 300 million doses by the end of 2021.