Russia Once Again Reports Record Daily COVID-19 Deaths, While Central Europe Ups Restrictions

Medical specialists place the body of a person who died of COVID-19 in a body bag at a local hospital in the town of Kalach-on-Don in Russia's Volgograd region on November 14.  

Russia has reported another record daily number of coronavirus-related deaths as cases continue to surge across the country.

The Russian national coronavirus task force said on November 18 that a record 1,251 people had died from the virus over the past day. More than 37,000 new infections were reported nationwide over the same interval.

The task force has reported more than 260,000 deaths since the pandemic began early last year — by far the highest death toll in Europe.

However, it is assumed that the number of unreported cases is much higher.

Russia imposed a weeklong workplace shutdown in early November, closing many businesses, in a move that was designed to curb a surge in case numbers.

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The surge in infections and deaths has been blamed on low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions, and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.

Less than 40 percent of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most of the world.

Europe has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with several countries deciding to reimpose restrictions to tamp down a worrying rise in COVID-19 cases.

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The Czech and Slovak governments on November 18 approved new coronavirus restrictions that will come into effect next week and specifically target unvaccinated people amid a record surge of infections in both countries.

Starting from November 22, only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from the illness in the past six months will be allowed into restaurants, hotels, and mass gatherings.

The Czech daily count soared to 22,511 new cases on November 16, the highest number of infections since the start of the pandemic.

In Slovakia, which reported 8,342 new virus cases on November 16, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set last week, those who have not been vaccinated will be banned from all nonessential stores and shopping malls, starting on November 22.

They’ll not be allowed to attend any public events or gatherings and will be required to test twice a week to go to work.

The Hungarian government on November 18 announced that it will make a third booster shot against COVID-19 mandatory for all health-care workers and will require mask-wearing in most indoor places from November 21.

Hungary reported 10,767 new COVID-19 infections on November 18, its highest daily tally since the end of March.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP

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