Russian region of Novgorod extends non-working period as COVID-19 infections rise

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Medical staff in special suits treat a COVID-19 patient at the Infectious Hospital No. 23 in Nizhny Novgorod.
Medical staff in special suits treat a COVID-19 patient at the Infectious Hospital No. 23 in Nizhny Novgorod.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Roman Yarovitcyn

The Russian region of Novgorod has ordered most residents to stay off work for another week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Citizens will be asked to stay out of the office for seven more days from November 8 as coronavirus infections and deaths remained at all-time highs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a nationwide non-working week from October 30 to combat the surge in infections.

The Novgorod regional authorities were the first to extend the measure on Monday.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force has reported more than 40,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the third straight day and more than 1,100 deaths for the seventh consecutive day.

President Putin had said that regional governments could begin the non-working period earlier than planned or extend the measure.

In the Novgorod region -- roughly 500 kilometres northwest of the Russian capital Moscow -- non-working days began on October 25.

The non-working period aimed to keep people out of offices and off crowded public transportation to reduce the spread of the virus.

But in some cities, restrictions have been loosely observed, and others have rushed to popular holiday destinations to take advantage of the break.

Novgorod’s governor Andrei Nikitin has said there is no reason to expect the situation to improve any time soon.

Less than 35% of Russia’s population has been fully vaccinated so far, even though Russia was among the first in the world to approve and roll out a coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, the Kremlin said it was concerned that doctors treating coronavirus patients in Russia were overworked.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that some health workers are facing "extreme emotional and physical stress".

President Putin has also stated that the situation was "very difficult" during a meeting with military officials and arms makers.

"A real solution to prevent serious and fatal cases of the disease is vaccination," Putin said.