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Russia Shortens Isolation For Contact With COVID-19, While Central, Eastern Europe Get Walloped


Members of an infectious diseases team of St Petersburg's City Hospital No. 76 go on a house call to attend to a suspected COVID-19 patient on January 24.
Members of an infectious diseases team of St Petersburg's City Hospital No. 76 go on a house call to attend to a suspected COVID-19 patient on January 24.

Russian health authorities have shortened the required isolation period for people who come in contact with COVID-19 patients from 14 days to seven.

The rule change only applies to those who had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, not those with a confirmed infection.

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People who test positive are still required to isolate for 14 days and test for the virus on day 10 or 11.

Daily new infections in Russia have been rising sharply for the past two weeks, increasing more than four-fold -- from about 15,000 on January 10 to 67,809 on January 25, the highest daily tally in the pandemic.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko says despite the rise in cases no significant increase in hospitalizations has been seen.

According to Anna Popova, head of Russia's public health-care watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, 52 percent of all new infections are being registered in Moscow, the Moscow region, and St. Petersburg.

The surge in Moscow, which reported nearly 19,000 new cases on January 25, has put a strain on the city’s outpatient clinics. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the influx of patients to outpatient facilities has grown four-fold.

Officials have warned that the current surge is the country’s biggest yet but haven’t announced any major restrictions to stem it.

In all, Russia's state coronavirus task force has reported over 11.2 million confirmed cases and 327,448 deaths, the largest death toll in Europe. Russia’s state statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, puts the overall number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 at more than 625,000.

Russia was the first country to approve and roll out a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine, but only about half of its population of 146 million people has been fully vaccinated.

In Central And Eastern Europe

Several Central and Eastern European countries have posted record numbers of coronavirus infections amid the rapid spread of the extremely contagious omicron variant.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, and Romania all hit their highest infection daily case rates of the pandemic on January 26.

Germany, the largest country of the group, reported 164,000 new cases. Poland recorded 53,420, followed by the much smaller Czech Republic with 39,614; Romania with 34,255 new cases; Hungary with 20,174; Bulgaria with 12,399; and Moldova with 5,138 new cases.

In Poland, Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told the media that the highly transmissible omicron variant currently accounted for around 40 percent of cases.

Romania and Bulgaria, the European Union countries with the smallest percentage of vaccinated people -- 41.2 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively -- also saw the highest number of daily deaths: 94 in the former and 73 in the latter.

In Moldova, 24 people died from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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