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COVID-19: Russia's capital Moscow braces for Omicron 'storm'

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By Euronews  with AP, EBU
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A medical worker administers a shot of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.
A medical worker administers a shot of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  Pavel Golovkin / AP

Russia continues to record new highs in coronavirus infections due to the highly contagious Omicron strain, which spreads much more easily than others and has already become dominant in many world countries.

The country's health authorities fear a "storm" of cases in Moscow in the coming weeks and say it is "too early to relax".

Dramatic growth in COVID-19 rates are forecasted in the city between late January and early February, according to the deputy director of the Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Denis Logunov.

"The number of daily cases will be very high. It's too early to relax as long as Omicron is here", he added.

Russia has registered 30,457 new daily infections over the past 24 hours, with the total number of infections reaching 10,865,512 cases, data by the anti-coronavirus crisis centre revealed on Monday.

The number of coronavirus cases in Moscow increased over the day by 7,529 against 6,480 the day before to 2,096,233.

So far, 47.7% of the Russian population is fully vaccinated.

Omicron: from pandemic to endemic?

Meanwhile, on whether the Omicron variant will herald a shift from pandemic to endemic, the top medical adviser to the US president, Anthony Fauci, warned that "it is too early to say".

"It's an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for," Fauci said on Monday during the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Davos Agenda online conference, "because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging."

The pandemic was one of the main topics at the WEF conference, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged business leaders to focus on vaccinating everybody against the coronavirus.

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth: If we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind. If we fail to vaccinate every person, we give rise to new variants that spread across borders and bring daily life and economies to a grinding halt," Guterres expressed.

The WEF was held online this year instead of its annual January meeting in Davos, Switzerland, because of health concerns linked to the pandemic.

The annual Davos gathering usually takes place in person in the Alpine snows of eastern Switzerland, drawing hundreds of business leaders, cultural elites, academics, and government leaders.

Leaders of countries like Germany, Colombia, and Japan were set to address the gathering that runs through Friday.