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Moscow Shuts Down Workweek Over Massive COVID-19 Spike

People wearing face masks of various sorts to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk inside the Moscow subway on June 10.

Moscow's mayor has announced a non-working week on June 15-19 in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases, as both the Russian capital and the rest of the country reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections since winter.

Also on June 12, Russia's national pandemic task force said that the daily tally of confirmed cases had risen by 47 percent over the past week, including more than a doubling in Moscow to over 6,700 cases in 24 hours.

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It cited 13,510 new infections nationally in the previous day.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said restaurants, bars, and similar venues in the city may not serve customers after 11 p.m. until at least June 20.

And enforcement of mask- and glove-wearing on public transportation and in public places will be bolstered, with violators facing fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($70).

Meanwhile, Interfax quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that 18 million Russians have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Russia has around 144 million people.

Sobyanin said Moscow authorities "expected that the spring pandemic peak would fall in April-May, just like last year," but that "now we're seeing that it has shifted toward June-July."

Sobyanin has estimated that around half of Moscow residents now have some level of immunity against the virus, presumably from previous infection or vaccination, although the source of that figure was unclear.

More than 125,000 coronavirus deaths have been registered by authorities since the start of the pandemic, but many experts say officials vastly underreport fatalities.

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

Russia approved Sputnik V, the world's first coronavirus vaccine, for use beginning last August, but authorities have struggled to ramp up vaccination efforts.

Based on reporting by Reuters