Russia’s second-largest city, Saint Petersburg, which is hosting matches of the European Championship football, registered its highest daily death toll since the start of the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday.
The city registered 107 deaths in the past 24 hours, which is the highest death toll for all Russian cities since the start of the epidemic, Russian news agencies reported.
A favourite destination for tourists, Saint Petersburg is the venue of seven matches of the UEFA Euro 2020 competition, six of which have already been played. The remaining one, a quarter-final match, is to be played on Friday.
Some 21,665 new infections were registered on Saturday in Russia, which has been severely affected by the Delta variant (which was first detected in India). In addition to Saint Petersburg, Moscow and the surrounding regions have been registering a significant number of cases for some weeks now.
Daily deaths in the country amounted on Saturday to 619, the highest number since December, bringing the cumulative total countrywide to 132,683, according to official figures. However, the Rosstat statistical agency, which has a broader definition of Covid-related deaths, reported 270,000 deaths between the start of the pandemic and late April 2021.
On Saturday, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on television that “one thing is necessary to stop the pandemic: fast, mass vaccinations.”
“No one has invented any other solution,” he said. ”To resolve this problem fundamentally, you need to be vaccinated or resort to confinement.”
In recent weeks, Moscow has reintroduced restrictive measures such as obliging some employees to work from home, making vaccination compulsory for staff in the services sector, and the creation of a health pass for restaurant patrons. However, a general lockdown, as in Spring 2020, is not under consideration now.
Despite repeated calls by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s vaccination campaign has been lagging since December due to generalised mistrust among the population.
Of the country’s 146 million inhabitants, 21.2 million (14.5%) have received the first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19, according to figures published on Friday by the Gogov website, which compiles data from the regions and the media in the absence of official national statistics.