Putin expected to order new virus restrictions as deaths soar

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Russia reported Wednesday a record 1,028 Covid deaths in a single day, with President Vladimir Putin expected to introduce new nationwide restrictions in Europe’s worst affected country.A Russian health worker wearing protective gear disinfects Moscow's Leningradsky railway station amid the surging pandemic© Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV A Russian health worker wearing protective gear disinfects Moscow’s Leningradsky railway station amid the surging pandemic

The new figures bring Russia’s official death toll to 226,353 — the highest on the continent even as authorities have been accused of vastly downplaying the severity of the pandemic.

The country also recorded 34,074 new virus cases, according to an official tally. 

Infection rates have soared in recent weeks amid a stalled vaccination program, with only 35 percent of the country fully innoculated. 

Putin is expected later on Wednesday to rule on a government proposal to introduce a nationwide week-long holiday at the end of the month to curb the spread of the virus. 

Under the plan, Russians will not go to work the first week of November, which coincides with national school holidays. 

Putin has introduced paid holidays during coronavirus peaks before, most recently in May.A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while sanitizing the Leningradsky railway station amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov© Thomson Reuters A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while sanitizing the Leningradsky railway station amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

On Tuesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the capital’s first coronavirus restrictions since the summer. 

He told unvaccinated over-60s in Moscow to work from home and extended mandatory vaccinations for service workers. Those restrictions take effect next Monday and are set to last until the end of February. 

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