Putin: ‘Life goes on’ despite ‘difficult’ COVID-19 situation

Feb 1, 2022, 4:04 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2022, 7:35 am

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that “life goes on” despite a “difficult” COVID-19 situation in the country that has seen infection records for two weeks straight.

The Kremlin continues to hold off from imposing nationwide restrictions even as the state coronavirus task force reported 141,883 news infections on Wednesday – a massive spike from the daily 15,000 cases recorded in early January.

Putin appealed for “solidarity” and “mutual assistance” to help the country pull through the renewed surge.

A subset of the omicron variant, BA.2, has been also discovered in Russia. The BA.2 subset is widely considered stealthier than the original version and some scientists worry it could also be more contagious.

With only one six-week-long lockdown in 2020, Russia has avoided imposing nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on its citizens, leaving these decisions up to the local governments in its regions. Restrictions vary from region to region in Russia, ranging from working remotely to limiting access to certain public spaces.

“Already today we are not talking about the lockdown, we are not talking about the quarantine, we are not talking about some kind of emergency countermeasures,” Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s public health agency, told state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Last month, parliament indefinitely postponed introducing restrictions on the unvaccinated that would have proven unpopular among vaccine-hesitant Russians. And last week health officials cut the required isolation period for those who came in contact with COVID-19 patients from 14 days to seven without offering any explanation for the move.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 12,128,796 confirmed cases and 332,690 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the highest death toll in Europe by far.

Russia’s state statistics agency Rosstat, which uses broader counting criteria than the task force, puts the country’s pandemic death toll much higher, saying the number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and December 2021 was at about 681,100.

Just about half of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though Russia boasted about being the first country in the world to approve and roll out a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine.

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Putin: ‘Life goes on’ despite ‘difficult’ COVID-19 situation