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Russia Coronavirus Daily Death Toll Hits New Record High

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Russia recorded a new record-high daily death toll from COVID-19, as daily deaths exceed 900 for the fourth day in a row.

The national coronavirus task force said October 9 that 968 people had died of the disease over the past day.

That is more than 30 more than the previous day, and about 100 more than were recorded in late September.

The task force also said more than 29,000 new infections were confirmed over the past 24 hours.

The surging figures mirror trends in other countries, where the more contagious Delta variant has spread widely. However, Russian authorities have also blamed a stubbornly low vaccination rate.

Despite the Kremlin last year announcing the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine, Russians have been reluctant to get vaccinated, either for one of five domestically produced vaccines or foreign-made vaccines which are less common in the country.

Tatyana Golikova, a deputy prime minister who oversees health policy, said on October 8 that almost 33 percent of Russia’s nearly 146 million people, had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

She said about 29 precent were fully vaccinated.

Despite the surging numbers, the Kremlin has resisted imposing a new nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to tighten restrictions to regional authorities.

In some areas of the country, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, life remains largely normal, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced.

Many observers say the government is undercounting COVID-19 deaths, and the actual number is likely significantly higher.

The latest coronavirus data from the state statistical service Rosstat showed more than 254,000 deaths in the first eight months of 2021, surpassing the more than 163,000 coronavirus deaths for all of 2020.

By contrast, the coronavirus task force only counts the deaths of patients for whom COVID-19 was considered the main cause. Rosstat includes people who had COVID-19 but died of other causes, and those for whom the coronavirus was suspected but not confirmed.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the city was “far from peak numbers” and that the growing infections are largely linked to high detection rates.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and TASS

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