Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told the government meeting with Putin that the number of confirmed omicron cases in Russia stood at 698 on Wednesday, more than double the 305 reported the day before.
“We can't avoid a new epidemic surge,” Golikova said, adding that the Moscow region is likely to “take the first hit.” Golikova also said the government will present additional measures to respond to the looming surge by the end of the week. She didn't offer any details about what these measures might be.
Russia this year has been reporting between 15,000 and 18,000 new infections a day, compared to December’s rate of about 30,000 daily cases. The country’s state coronavirus task force has registered over 10.6 million confirmed infections and 317,618 deaths overall.
Russia’s state statistics agency, which user broader counting criteria, puts the death toll much higher, saying the overall number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 was over 625,000.
Russia had only one nationwide lockdown in 2020, and in October many Russians were ordered to stay off work for a week amid a surge of infections and deaths, but generally the authorities have resisted shutting down businesses or imposing any tough restrictions.
Russian lawmakers late last year introduced legislation restricting access to public places to those who have been vaccinated, recovered or medically exempt from getting a jab, but the law hasn’t yet passed all three readings in parliament.
Similar restrictions already exist in some Russian regions, but are often loosely implemented. In others, they were relaxed ahead of the New Year's holidays.
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