MOSCOW (AP) – The total number of coronavirus infections in Russia surpassed 8 million on Monday, more than 5% of the population, and the daily number of new cases broke a new record.
The 34,325 new infections on the last day brought the total of the pandemic to 8,027,012 cases, according to the government team to fight the coronavirus. In addition, 998 people died of COVID-19 the day before, bringing the total death toll to 224,310.
The death toll was slightly below the record of 1,002 people set on Saturday, but it showed that the virus continued to hit the country hard, where the vaccination rate remained low.
Russian authorities have tried to accelerate the pace of vaccinations with lotteries, bonuses and other incentives, but widespread skepticism towards vaccines and mixed messages from authorities have hampered efforts. About 45 million Russians, or 32% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, are fully vaccinated, the pandemic team said Monday.
Despite the growing death toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a new national quarantine like the one at the beginning of the pandemic, which dealt a severe blow to the economy and undermined the popularity of President Vladimir Putin. Instead, it has delegated to regional authorities the powers to impose restrictions against the coronavirus.
Some of Russia’s 85 regions have restricted seating at large public events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other venues. However, life goes on as usual in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and many other Russian cities.
The highest concentrations of cases were mostly in western Russia, relatively more urbanized, and in the developed areas of the Pacific coast, such as Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. However, the sparsely populated Siberian regions of Sakha and Chukotka, in remote Northeast of the country, they also have high rates with more than 150 infections per 100,000 people during seven days.
Russia is the European country with the most deaths in the pandemic. The official figure makes Russia the fifth country in the world with the most victims, behind the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
However, the state statistical agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths in which the virus is not considered a main cause, has reported a much higher cost of the pandemic, some 418,000 deaths with COVID-19 until August. According to that sum, Russia would be the fourth most affected country in the world, ahead of Mexico.