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AFP
June 14, 2021

Partying youths defy Paris police for third night running; Moscow announces raffle to boost vaccination

AFP
June 14, 2021

MOSCOW: Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Sunday that residents of the Russian capital who get their first coronavirus jab will now take part in a lottery to win a car.

The move comes as authorities seek to speed up Russia’s vaccination drive that has stagnated while new infections in Moscow and across the country are on the rise. "From June 14 until July 11, 2021, citizens who get their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine will become participants in a car lottery," Sobyanin announced on his website.

Every week five cars will be raffled out, each worth around 1 million rubles ($13,900). "But of course the main gain for those who get vaccinated cannot be compared to any car -- it is their own health and peace of mind," Sobyanin said. The mayor -- who was vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V in May last year -- added that two days ago he got a booster jab and "feels well".

Later on Sunday, authorities in the Moscow region announced that they will be raffling out a three-bedroom apartment among those who get their first jab between June 15 and June 25. Sobyanin sounded the alarm over the spike in cases earlier this week and announced the reopening of field hospitals and introduced a "non-working" week until June 20. All non-essential workers will be out of office but will retain their salary. However, they have not been ordered to stay at home.

The mayor also reintroduced a curfew for bars and restaurants that bans them from serving customers between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am. A government tally reported 7,704 new virus cases in Moscow on Sunday, a six-month high.

Despite introducing a strict lockdown after the pandemic swept across Russia last spring, authorities lifted most restrictions by mid-summer in an effort to protect the struggling economy. Russia started its mass vaccination campaign in December, with the homegrown vaccine Sputnik V -- touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the best in the world -- that is free and widely available in Moscow.

Since the registration of Sputnik V in August, Russia has approved three more vaccines for public use -- EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-dose Sputnik Light.

Foreign-made vaccines are not available in Russia. So far, 18 million people or 12 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine with polls showing that a majority of Russians do not plan to get immunised.

The Kremlin said Putin was vaccinated against the coronavirus in private but did not reveal which jab he used.Meanwhile, Paris police said on Sunday that three people were detained after officers used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths gathered for a street party in defiance of Covid social distancing limits and an 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) curfew.

The so-called Project X gathering on Saturday, a reference to an American film from 2012, on the vast lawns in front of the Invalides war museum was the third party at the site since Thursday.

Videos on social media showed largely maskless youths surrounding a car and then climbing and jumping on its roof, while others bombarded police vans with bottles. Other mass parties were broken up after midnight in the Tuileries gardens near the Louvre and on the banks of the Seine river, police said, as people enjoying warm evenings outside found it difficult to respect the coronavirus curfew.

In a related development, South Africa, which is struggling to roll out its inoculation programme as it enters a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, said on Sunday it will pull two million of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following contamination concerns at one of the US drugmaker’s sites.

On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration told J&J that millions of doses produced at the group’s Emergent BioSolutions facility in the city of Baltimore were not suitable for use. Following a review of the FDA decision, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said in a statement that it had decided "not to release vaccine produced using the drug substance batches that were not suitable".