Putin orders week-long paid holiday to curb Covid infections in Russia

By: AFP      Published: 06:01 PM, 20 Oct, 2021
russia covid deaths record
Russia reports record daily Covid deaths

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a nationwide week-long paid holiday starting on October 30 to curb Covid infections amid record virus deaths and again urged Russians to vaccinate themselves.  

At a televised meeting with officials, Putin said he supported a government proposal to "declare non-working days between October 30 and November 7 throughout the country" and asked Russians to "show responsibility" and get Covid jabs.

Russia said Wednesday 1,028 people died of Covid over the past 24 hours, a new record, as President Vladimir Putin mulls introducing nationwide restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.

The country recorded 34,074 new coronavirus cases, according to a government tally.

Russian officials have been accused of downplaying the severity of the pandemic, but even the official figures bring the country's official Covid-19 death toll to 226,353 -- the highest in Europe.

Virus cases have soared in Russia amid a stalled vaccination campaign, with only 35 percent of the population fully inoculated despite the homegrown Sputnik V jab being widely available. 

Later Wednesday Putin is expected to rule on a government proposal to introduce a nationwide week-long holiday at the end of the month to curb the spread of the virus. 

On Tuesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the city's first coronavirus restrictions since the summer. 

He told unvaccinated over-60s in the capital to work from home and extended mandatory vaccinations for service workers. Those restrictions take effect next Monday and are set to last until the end of February. 

Sobyanin also told employers to move 30 percent of their staff to home working.

The surge in cases has come without any strict restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus, although several regions have re-introduced QR codes for access to public places.

Figures published by statistics agency Rosstat in October suggested that more than 400,000 people have died in the country from the Covid disease.