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Putin tells Russian workers to stay home as COVID-19 deaths reach new record

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
Medics treat a patient with coronavirus at an ICU at the Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52, Russia, Oct 9, 2021.
Medics treat a patient with coronavirus at an ICU at the Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52, Russia, Oct 9, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Russia's President on Wednesday ordered workers to stay home to curb soaring COVID-19 fatalities as the daily death toll reached yet another record high.

The non-working week will start on October 30 and run until November 7.

Vladimir Putin also urged Russians to "be responsible" and get vaccinated.

Authorities recorded 1,028 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday — the highest number observed since the beginning of the pandemic, and the second consecutive over the 1,000 thresholds.

The country has now lost 226,353 lives to the pandemic, according to the Coronavirus Task Force — the highest death toll in Europe — although the Rosstat statistics agency, which has a wider definition of what constitutes a COVID-19 death, estimates the disease has claimed over 400,000 lives.

Infections are also soaring with more than 30,000 new cases recorded daily over the previous seven days.

Sending workers home for a week was a measure first suggested by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova and will be extended through the following week during which four of seven days already are state holidays.

The Kremlin had until now ruled out a new national lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that dealt a heavy blow to the economy and sapped Putin’s popularity, empowering regional authorities across the country's 11 time zones to decide on local restrictions, depending on their situation.

Many of Russia’s 85 regions already have restricted attendance at large public events and limited access to theatres, restaurants and other venues. Some have made vaccinations compulsory for certain public servants and people over 60.

In some regions, mounting infections forced authorities to suspend medical assistance to the population as health care facilities were forced to focus on treating coronavirus patients.

Vaccination remains low in the country despite the Kremlin being first to roll out a nationwide inoculation campaign and touting its homegrown Sputnik V jab abroad.

According to Our World In Data, about 34% of the country's 146 million population have received at least one dose and 31% are fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said unvaccinated people over 60 will be required to stay home. He also told businesses to keep at least a third of their employees working remotely for three months starting Oct. 25.