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Russia Hits Another COVID Death Record As Ukraine Shuts Schools

Medics work in an intensive care unit for Covid-19 patients in an emergency hospital in Moscow on October 20.

Russia has notched yet another daily record for coronavirus infections and deaths as authorities prepare to reintroduce lockdown restrictions.

The government's coronavirus crisis center on October 22 reported 37,141 new COVID-19 cases with 1,064 people dying over the past 24 hours in what is the second successive daily case record and the fourth straight day of record deaths.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nationwide "nonworking" week, starting on October 30, in a bid to stem the rise in infections, which has been attributed to vaccine hesitancy, virus variants, and lax health measures.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reintroduced lockdown measures between October 28 and November 7 -- with all shops, bars, and restaurants due to close, except those selling essential goods.

Russia has by far the largest official death toll in Europe -- 228,453 -- and the fourth-highest in the world.

Although Russia was the first country to announce the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, only about a third of its nearly 146 million people are fully vaccinated.

A European Union report said on October 21 that a systematic disinformation campaign by Russia to promote COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the West has backfired.

The EU study said Russian state broadcaster RT and other media outlets had sown mistrust about the efficacy and safety of vaccines in several European languages, including in Russian.

"Disinformation can kill. That should be kept in mind when we see Kremlin media continue spreading lies on COVID-19 and the vaccines, even as the death tolls in Russia are surging," said the EU study, entitled "Disinformation Review."

The Kremlin denies it conducts disinformation about vaccines.

Countries across Eastern Europe have experienced a surge of infections in recent weeks, prompting authorities to announce a raft of restrictions.

In Ukraine, government data showed a record 614 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, up from 546 the day before. Ukraine's number of infections in the pandemic stands at 2.72 million, with 63,003 deaths.

Schools were shut in high-infection areas on October 22, including the capital, Kyiv, where a two-week holiday was announced.

The government also announced a requirement for vaccine certificates or negative tests to access public transport in the capital, adding new measures on the unvaccinated, whose access to restaurants, sports, and other public events is restricted.

Only 6.8 million in a population of 41 million are fully vaccinated.

Latvia has begun a monthlong lockdown as the number of new coronavirus cases reached an all-time high in the country, while hospitals in Bulgaria and Romania feel the strain of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Bulgaria have risen 30 percent over the last month and hospitals in the capital have suspended nonessential surgeries.

Just one adult in four is fully vaccinated in Bulgaria, and many still resist getting the shot. Hundreds protested in Sofia and other cities against vaccination certificates that limit access to many indoor public spaces to those who have been vaccinated.

In Romania, where new daily cases have soared toward 19,000 this week, about one adult in three has been vaccinated, the second-lowest rate in the European Union.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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