Source: Robert Besser

MOSCOW, Russia: Russia has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for the third time this month, as new daily cases again exceed 25,000.

The state coronavirus task force reported a new daily high of 895 new deaths, the highest during the pandemic, and 25,110 new confirmed cases.

At the same time, national vaccination rates have stagnated, but the Russian government has avoided imposing heavier restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the coronavirus task force, said earlier this week that Russia is close to registering 30,000 new daily coronavirus cases, noting there are three times more confirmed coronavirus cases this fall, compared with last year.

The government and regional authorities are considering implementing several measures to avoid a lockdown, she added.

Some Russian regions have limited attendance at large events and restricted access to some public areas, such as theaters, restaurants and bars, to those fully vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative within the past 72 hours. But whether these measures can slow the spread of the virus has been questioned by critics.

Life remains relatively normal in some parts of the country, including in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but Russia’s underfunded healthcare system has begun to show signs of being overwhelmed by the surge.

Officials have blamed the surge on a low vaccine uptake. Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, on Tuesday, that “the insufficient level of vaccination” was the “main cause,” of the increase in Covid cases, as reported by ABC News.

Some 33 percent of Russia’s 146 million people had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while just 29 percent are fully vaccinated, Golikova said on Tuesday., an independent website that tracks vaccinations, estimates 129,000 people per day are receiving their first vaccine dose, and some 244,000 first and second doses per day are currently being administered around the country.

Experts attributed the slow rate of vaccinations to several factors, such as skepticism caused by the rapid approval and rollout of the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, while Peskov blamed an inadequate education campaign that failed to convince the public that there are no alternatives to being vaccinated.

Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported over 7.6 million confirmed cases of Covid and some 212,000 deaths, but state statistical service Rosstat, which counts coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively, has announced far higher figures.