Russia recorded on Friday its highest daily death toll for COVID-19-related deaths for the second day in a row, according to government reports.
A government tally showed 815 COVID-19 fatalities over the past 24 hours and 22,277 new coronavirus cases, according to The Moscow Times.
As of Thursday, the Russian government has reported 6,534,791 cumulative cases of coronavirus and 168,049 attributed fatalities—the highest number in Europe, reports Newsweek.
Russia has been deemed the pandemic’s fourth worst-hit country in the world since mid-June, the Times said, after restrictions began to lift and cases skyrocketed because of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The number of COVID-19 fatalities only takes into account cases where the virus was the primary cause of death, the Times said. But under a wider range of definitions, Russia has seen more than 300,000 fatalities since the end of June, according to statistics agency Rosstat.
“It’s of course not good that the deaths are rising so quickly. I hope that people will get vaccinated faster,” Nikita, a bank worker in Moscow, told Agence France-Presse.
The country has struggled to promote COVID-19 vaccination. A poll by the independent Levada Center this week showed that 55 percent of Russian residents do not plan on getting a shot.
Russia has three locally created vaccines that are available to the public, but the country is not distributing any Western vaccines, such as those from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, the Times said.
In June, President Vladimir Putin said he had gotten vaccinated but didn’t say which vaccine he received.
“As you can see, everything is in order, and thank God we don’t have such tragic situations after vaccinations like AstraZeneca or Pfizer,” he said, according to Reuters, Putin added that 23 million of Russia’s 146 million people had been vaccinated.
As of Friday, 30 million people had been fully vaccinated, according to government data.
“I don’t support mandatory vaccination, and I continue to hold this point of view,” Putin said.
Russia has recorded more than 6.4 million coronavirus cases nationwide since the start of the pandemic, Reuters said.
Despite the rising numbers, the Times reported that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has lifted a requirement that employers keep at least 30 percent of their employees at home, a move that eases restrictions in the country’s COVID-19 epicenter.
The U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia website said that “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Embassy Moscow advises U.S. citizens not to travel to Russia.”
The country of Georgia, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus that lies next to Russia, has doubled down on restrictions this week as its case numbers also continue to rise.
“The epidemic situation in the country is hard, and we expect the new regulations to stabilize the spread of the infection in two weeks,” Georgia Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said Friday, according to the Times.