Moscow coronavirus deaths hit record as Russian COVID-19 case surge continues

A medical specialist stands next to ambulances parked outside a hospital amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia on Friday reported a record number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in Moscow, amid a surge in infections that authorities blame on the Delta variant and the slow progress of a vaccination programme.

Officials have scrambled to compel people to get inoculated amid tepid demand for the vaccine since cases began surging this month.

The government coronavirus task force reported 20,393 new COVID-19 cases, including 7,916 in Moscow, the most confirmed in a single day since Jan. 24, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,409,088.

It said 601 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, with 98 in the capital, pushing the national death toll to 132,064. St Petersburg also reported 98 deaths.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to COVID-19 from April 2020 to April 2021.

Moscow’s authorities have ordered bars and restaurants from Monday to serve people only if they can present a QR-code showing they have been vaccinated, had an infection indicating immunity or recently tested negative.

As demand for the shots boomed, the Kremlin said on Friday vaccine shortages in Russia were also linked to storage difficulties, and that shortages would be resolved in the coming days.

The local health ministry in Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk region on Friday said it had been forced to suspend vaccinations at some sites in two cities due to shortages.

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