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RUSSIA reported a new record for Covid-19 deaths today, with 1,015 people dying from the virus in the preceding 24 hours.
The new coronavirus wave brings the country’s Covid death toll to 225,325, the highest in Europe.
Though proportionally lower, at 1,526 deaths per million people, than the figures for Britain (2,068) Italy (2,182) or France (1,666), deaths are rising much faster as the country has a comparatively low vaccination rate with just 32 per cent of the population fully vaccinated so far.
Authorities are trying to boost vaccination rates with lotteries and rewards for getting jabbed, but vaccine scepticism remains high.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said the high death toll was linked to chronic underfunding of the health system, noting that the ruling United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin had voted down communist proposals to double the health budget and triple federal allocations for primary medicine, which is the responsibility of cash-strapped local authorities.
He sounded the alarm about the fact that “the country is dying out at an accelerated pace.”
Russia’s population has steadily declined since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with deaths exceeding births, but the last year has seen the biggest fall in the country’s peacetime history, with a drop of almost a million since October 2020.
Mr Zyuganov said Russians were dying at a rate that might be expected in a major war.
The Kremlin has ruled out a new national lockdown, but authorised regional governments to apply restrictions as they see fit.
Many have already restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theatres, restaurants and other venues.
Covid cases are rising fast in neighbouring Latvia, which announced today it will enter a new lockdown tomorrow, set to last until November 15.
It will entail an 8pm-5am curfew, closure of non-essential shops and a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The virus is spreading in a number of countries worldwide, including New Zealand, formerly one of the most successful practitioners of the zero-Covid strategy based on eliminating transmission wherever possible.
Its capital Auckland is still in lockdown as the government ramps up vaccination efforts in a bid to combat the highly infectious delta variant.
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