Kremlin blames ‘nihilism’ as Moscow hits record for COVID-19 infections

A specialist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sprays disinfectant while disinfecting Rizhsky railway station, one of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Moscow, Russia, on 17 June 2021. Russian Emergency Division of Moscow Ministry / Document via REUTERS

MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) – The Kremlin blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on Friday on reluctance to get vaccinated due to “nihilism” after a record 9,000 new infections in the capital stoked fears of a third wave.

Russia, the world’s largest country, has reported 17,262 new coronavirus infections nationwide.

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended restrictions he imposed earlier, including banning public events of more than 1,000 people, closing cafes and restaurants at 11 p.m. and closing shops. fan zones set up for the European football championship. Read more

Sobyanin said earlier this week that Moscow, home to 13 million people, is facing a new, more aggressive and infectious variant of the coronavirus, and the situation in the city is deteriorating rapidly.

It was not clear whether he was referring to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India and caused a resurgence of cases in Britain.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin was monitoring the situation closely.

Asked to explain the upsurge in cases, Peskov blamed the “cunning nature” of the virus, a reference to its mutations, as well as “total nihilism and the low level of vaccination”. Read more

During a briefing, he dismissed the idea, put forward by some critics, that Russians were reluctant to get vaccinated because they were suspicious of the authorities.

As of June 2, the latest tally available, only 18 million Russians had so far received at least one dose of the vaccine: one-eighth of the population, far less than most Western countries.

Authorities in Moscow this week ordered all workers in public roles to be vaccinated. Read more

Sobyanin said on Friday he expected the city government to begin inoculating migrant workers with Sputnik Light – a single dose of the Sputnik V vaccine – early next month.

But he also said it was “vitally important” to start giving more booster doses – in fact, a third dose. He said he had just received a supplement himself, having been fully vaccinated two doses ago a year ago.

He said the third dose offered was a repeat of the first dose of the two-shot Sputnik V vaccine.

Several Russian officials and members of the business elite, as well as some members of the public, have already obtained third and fourth doses of Sputnik V, Reuters reported in April. Read more

The question of how long a vaccine provides protection against COVID-19 will be vital as countries assess when or if revaccination will be necessary, and Russia’s findings will be closely watched elsewhere.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Olzhas Auyov; Editing by Maria Kiselyova

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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