MOSCOW (AP) – Russia is reporting a record daily count of new coronavirus infections of 180,071, a tenfold spike from a month ago as the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads through the country.
The figure released by the state coronavirus task force yesterday was about 2,800 cases more than recorded the previous day and continued a surge that began in mid-January, when daily new cases were around 17,000.
Although the number of infections has increased dramatically in recent weeks, the task force reported that daily deaths from COVID-19 are holding steady or marginally declining: 661 deaths were recorded over the past 24 hours, compared with 796 on January 6.
For the entire course of the pandemic, the task force has reported 12.8 million infections and 335,414 deaths.
Despite the soaring infections, President Vladimir Putin told Russia’s top business association last week that authorities are not planning any lockdowns or other additional restrictions because of the surge. Moreover, the government lifted the seven-day self-isolation restrictions for those who come into contact with COVID-19 patients.
Faced with the biggest virus surge yet, Russian authorities have generally resisted imposing any major restrictions and repeatedly rejected the idea of introducing a lockdown.
Russia had only one, six-week lockdown in 2020, and in October 2021 many people were also ordered to stay off work for about a week. But beside that, life in most of the country remained largely normal, with even mask mandates being loosely enforced.
Only about half of Russia’s 146-million population has been vaccinated so far, even though the country was among the first in the world to roll out COVID-19 shots.