Moscow sees new variants behind the COVID-19 peak


Transmission electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which comes out of human cells. Credit: NIAID

New variants of COVID-19 are suspected of causing a sudden jump in the number of cases in the Russian capital, the mayor said Thursday, amid a slow vaccination process.

“Most likely we are facing new, more aggressive variants that are spreading faster,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said during the with fighting the pandemic.

He noted that daily infections in the capital had increased from 3,000 to 7,000 in a few days and were expected to reach more than 9,000 on Friday.

“It’s tripling, there’s a huge dynamic that we haven’t seen during previous waves,” Sobyanin added.

The mayor had on Wednesday ordered mandatory vaccinations for Moscow residents working in the service industry, citing a “dramatic” increase in coronavirus infections.

About 60 percent of everything Moscow workers (just over two million people) were ordered to be fully vaccinated on August 15, including , staff of cultural venues and restaurant workers.

On Saturday, Sobyanin announced this week that it was a “non-working” week in the capital to try to control the virus.

Moscow health officials have reported in recent weeks a steady increase in the number of new infections, reflecting a trend across Russia.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told the video conference that the number of cases across Russia had risen by an average of 30% in recent weeks and that people aged 30 to 40 were especially affected.

“The proportion of the Indian variant (Delta) has clearly progressed in the last two weeks,” added Anna Popova, head of the health surveillance dog Rospotrebnadzor.

The rise in cases comes as authorities struggle to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, even though the country launched a massive campaign of free washes in December.

Sobyanin, the city of about 12 million of which is the epicenter of the outbreak in Russia, said only 1.8 million residents had been inoculated.

Since December, only 19 million of a national population of 146 million have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Gogov website, which calculates COVID figures from regions and the media in the absence of a national statistical office.

Russia on Thursday surpassed Britain as a European country to record the number of deaths by COVID with 127,992.

However, the statistics agency Rosstat, which uses a broader clinical definition of COVID-19-related fatalities, says at least 270,000 Russians have died from coronavirus.

Moscow orders mandatory vaccinations for a “dramatic” increase in cases

© 2021 AFP

Citation: Moscow sees new variants behind peak COVID-19 (2021, June 17) recovered on June 17, 2021 at

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