Russia and Romania have reported record COVID-19 death tolls as a surge in infections blamed by the authorities on a low vaccination rate continues to sweep across Eastern Europe.
Russia's daily COVID-19 death toll has risen to a record high of 1,178 amid a surge in coronavirus infections that has forced officials to reimpose a partial lockdown nationwide.
The government coronavirus task force also reported 39,008 new infections over the previous 24 hours, including 5,736 cases in Moscow.
In Romania, the EU member state with the second-lowest immunization rate, health authorities on November 2 reported 591 deaths and just over 11,000 new cases over the previous 24 hours.
In Russia, more than 8.5 million infections have been recorded among its 146 million inhabitants during the pandemic. Russia's official COVID-19 death count stands at almost 241,000, the largest in Europe and fourth-highest in the world behind the United States, Brazil, and India.
But the task force counts only deaths directly caused by the virus. The state statistics service, Rosstat, which counts COVID-19 deaths by wider criteria, released figures on October 29 indicating Russia's death toll was about 462,000 as of the end of September, nearly twice the task force's count at that time.
To contain the spread of infection, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a paid "nonwork" period from October 30 to November 7 during which most state agencies and private businesses are to suspend operations.
Romania, meanwhile, has reported that no intensive-care beds were available in the country of 19 million. Several fellow EU members -- Poland, Hungary, and Germany -- have already begun airlifting Romanian patients to their hospitals.
Romania, with a death toll of almost 49,000, has fully vaccinated roughly 37 percent of its adult population.
Although daily vaccination numbers have risen in recent weeks amid fear of infection, skepticism induced by misinformation campaigns on social media remains high, while the authorities' bungled handling of the pandemic over the summer has contributed to public mistrust in prevention measures such as local lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the Russian authorities say doctors are under "extraordinary" strain due to the surging number of cases.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that doctors working in red zones were facing "extreme physical and emotional stress" with the recent rise in cases.
"This is an excessive and extraordinary burden on our doctors, who are demonstrating heroism with what is happening," he added.
Anna Popova, the head of Russia's health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, urged citizens to "make use of the holiday period" to get themselves their injection.