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Russia's Daily COVID-19 Deaths Pass 1,000 For First Time

A health-care worker prepares a dose of Sputnik V at a vaccination center in Moscow. (file photo)
A health-care worker prepares a dose of Sputnik V at a vaccination center in Moscow. (file photo)

Russia on October 16 reported 1,002 deaths linked to COVID-19, the highest such figure since the pandemic began.

New COVID-19 cases, confirmed in the past 24 hours, also hit a record high at 33,208, the Russian coronavirus task force said.

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Overall, Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported more than 7.9 million confirmed cases and 222,315 deaths -- the highest death toll in Europe and the fifth hardest-hit nation in the world.

The state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasn’t considered the main cause, has reported a much higher toll of pandemic deaths -- about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19 as of August. If that higher number is used, Russia would be the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world, surging past Mexico.

The Kremlin has blamed the rising death toll on Russia's slow vaccination campaign and has appealed to people to get the shot. Take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products.

Russia was fast to develop and launch its Sputnik vaccine when the pandemic struck last year and has since approved four vaccines for use.

Despite the surge in infections and deaths, the Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to make decisions on toughening coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized on October 12 the importance of broad vaccination and urged lawmakers to help encourage the population to get the shots.

“We must patiently and persistently work with people and explain all the advantages of prophylactics against this dangerous disease,” Putin told a meeting with newly elected Russian lawmakers.

Around one-third of the population -- 43 million -- has been inoculated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on October 12.

With reporting by Interfax and Reuters
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