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AFP
June 20, 2021

Second day running: Moscow records new high for Covid cases

AFP
June 20, 2021

Second day running: Moscow records new high for Covid cases

MOSCOW: Russia’s capital Moscow on Saturday registered 9,120 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours, a second consecutive high, according to government figures.

Saturday’s record topped the previous day’s total of 9,056 new infections, according to the government’s coronavirus tally, ballooning from 3,000 daily just two weeks ago.

The new cases are being driven by the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India and have threatened to overwhelm Moscow’s hospitals, as officials rush to roll out new beds for Covid patients.

To deal with the onslaught of new patients, Deputy Moscow Mayor Anastasia Rakova said in a statement that the city would expand hospital beds to 24,000 from 17,000 over the next two weeks.

Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, accounted Saturday for more than half of the country’s new cases, which stood at nearly 5.3 million since the start of the pandemic.

The total caseload is the sixth-highest worldwide, according to an AFP tally.

On Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the Delta variant accounted for nearly 90 percent of new cases. The highly infectious variant has forced the mayor to reintroduce a host of pandemic restrictions in the Russian capital, which for months had all but returned to life as normal.

Russian authorities had banked on their four vaccines -- Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-dose Sputnik Light -- to curtail the pandemic, but has faced a populace skeptical of inoculation.

Although Russia rolled out its jab drive in December, just 19 million out of a population of some 146 million have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Gogov website which tallies Covid figures from the regions and the media in the absence of a national statistics office.

One recent independent survey said 60 percent of Russians do not intend to be vaccinated.

But on Wednesday, Sobyanin ordered mandatory vaccination for residents of the Russian capital working in the service industry, saying some 60 percent would have to be fully inoculated by August 15.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's is racing to ramp up supplies of oxygen as a deadly third surge of Covid-19 worsens, a senior health official said in an interview on Saturday.The government is installing oxygen supply plants in 10 provinces where up to 65% of those tested in some areas are Covid positive, health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigir Nazari said. By WHO recommendations, anything higher than 5% shows officials aren’t testing widely enough, allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

By WHO recommendations, anything higher than 5% shows officials aren’t testing widely enough, allowing the virus to spread unchecked. Afghanistan carries out barely 4,000 tests a day and often much less. Afghanistan's 24-hour infection count has also continued its upward climb from 1,500 at the end of May when the health ministry was already calling the surge “a crisis,” to more than 2,300 this week. Since the pandemic outbreak, Afghanistan is reporting 101,906 positive cases and 4,122 deaths. But those figures are likely a massive undercount, registering only deaths in hospitals — not the far greater numbers who die at home.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan received 900 oxygen cylinders from Iran on Saturday, part of 3,800 cylinders Tehran promised to deliver to Kabul last week.