By JIM HEINTZ
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia is reporting a new daily high number of COVID-19 deaths, while the the total number of coronavirus infections during the pandemic in the country has topped 9 million.
The surge in daily deaths and infections that began in mid-September appeared to plateau over the past week, but the national coronavirus task force said Saturday that a record 1,241 people died from the virus over the past day, two more than the previous record reported on Wednesday.
The task force said 39,256 new infections were recorded, bringing the country’s case total to 9.03 million.
Russia imposed a “non-working” week in early November, closing many businesses, with the aim of stemming the virus’s surge.
Two bills outlining new restriction measures were introduced in parliament on Friday, with the aim of their taking effect next year. They would restrict access to many public places, as well as domestic and international trains and flights, to those who have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or are medically exempt from vaccination.
The surge in infections and deaths comes amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions. Fewer than 40% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most of the world.
In total, the coronavirus task force has reported more than 254,000 deaths — by far the highest death toll in Europe. Some experts believe the true figure is even higher. Reports by Russia’s statistical service, Rosstat, that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively reveal much higher mortality: 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September of this year.
Russian officials have said the task force only includes deaths for which COVID-19 was the main cause, and uses data from medical facilities. Rosstat uses wider criteria for counting virus-related deaths and takes its numbers from civil registry offices where registering a death is finalized.
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