The number of new COVID-19 cases in Russia continues to rise. On October 31, the country recorded a new daily high as businesses remained closed in an effort to counter a surge in infections.
The national coronavirus task force reported 40,993 new infections over the previous 24 hours. That was more than 700 over the previous record set one day earlier.
The death toll reported on October 31 was 1,158, down slightly from the daily record of 1,163 recorded on October 29.
More than 8.5 million infections have been recorded in the country of 146 million during the pandemic. Russia’s official COVID-19 death count stands at 238,538, the highest in Europe.
But the task force counts only deaths directly caused by the virus. The state statistics service Rosstat, which counts COVID-19 deaths using wider criteria, released figures on October 29 indicating Russia’s death toll was about 462,000 as of the end of September, nearly twice the task force’s count.
To contain the spread of infection, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a nonworking period from October 30 to November 7 during which most state agencies and private businesses are to suspend operations.
Moscow introduced the measures on October 28, shutting down kindergartens, schools, gyms, entertainment venues, and most stores, and restricting restaurants to takeout or delivery. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and companies operating key infrastructure remain open.
Access to museums, theaters, concert halls, and other venues in Russia is limited to people holding digital codes on their phones to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, a practice that will remain after November 7. Unvaccinated people older than 60 have been ordered to stay home.
Many Russians are using the time off to take a Black Sea vacation or a trip to Egypt or Turkey.
Authorities have blamed soaring infections and deaths on the slow pace of Russia’s vaccination program. About 51 million Russians — just over a third of the population — were fully vaccinated as of October 31.