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Russia: Highest New COVID     10/17 10:00

   Russia is reporting its largest daily number of new coronavirus infections, 
more than 70% up on the number a month ago as the country faces a sustained 
rise in cases.

   MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia is reporting its largest daily number of new 
coronavirus infections, more than 70% up on the number a month ago as the 
country faces a sustained rise in cases.

   The national coronavirus task force on Sunday said 34,303 new infections 
were recorded in the previous day, compared with the 20,174 reported Sept. 19.

   The death toll of 999 was barely lower than the record 1,002 deaths reported 
on Saturday.

   Russian authorities have tried to speed up the pace of vaccinations with 
lotteries, bonuses and other incentives, but widespread vaccine skepticism and 
conflicting signals from officials stymied the efforts. The government said 
this week that about 43 million Russians, or some 29% of the country's nearly 
146 million people, are fully vaccinated.

   Despite the mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide 
lockdown like the one early on in the pandemic that badly hurt the economy, 
eroding President Vladimir Putin's popularity. Instead, it has delegated the 
power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

   Some of Russia's 85 regions have restricted attendance at large public 
events and limited access to theaters, restaurants and other venues. However, 
daily life is going on largely as normal in Moscow, St. Petersburg and many 
other Russian cities.

   The highest concentrations of cases are mostly in comparatively urbanized 
western Russia and in the developed areas along the Pacific Coast such as 
Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, but the sparsely populated Siberian region of Sakha 
and Chukotka in the extreme northeast also show high case rates of more than 
150 infections per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

   Overall, the coronavirus task force has registered more than 7.99 million 
confirmed cases and 223,312 deaths -- Europe's highest death toll. The official 
record ranks Russia as having the fifth-most pandemic deaths in the world 
following the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

   However, state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths in which 
the virus wasn't considered the main cause, has reported a much higher pandemic 
death toll -- about 418,000 people with COVID-19 as of August. Based on that 
number, Russia would rank as the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world, ahead 
of Mexico.

 
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