Russia posted another record of daily coronavirus deaths on Friday as authorities hoped to contain the contagion by keeping most people out of work.
The government’s coronavirus task force reported 1,163 deaths in 24 hours, the highest daily number since the pandemic began. The most recent deaths resulted in a total of 236,220, by far the highest in Europe.
To curb the spread of the infection, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a non-working period from October 30 to November 7, during which most state organizations and private companies are to cease operations. He encouraged the hardest-hit regions of Russia to start earlier, and some earlier this week ordered most residents to go to work.
Moscow rolled out the measure from Thursday by closing kindergartens, schools, gyms, entertainment venues and most shops and allowing restaurants and cafes to take away or deliver only. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and companies operating critical infrastructure remained open.
Access to museums, theaters, concert halls and other venues is restricted to people who have digital codes on their smartphones to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, a practice that will continue after November 7th. Unvaccinated people older than 60 were told to stay at home.
Some entrepreneurs said they were trying to keep their businesses going because they had not been promised state aid.
Elena, a Moscow beauty salon manager, told Reuters that she would continue to accept clients only by appointment.
“To hell with them … we’re going to work. We’re just going to hang curtains …. During the last lockdown we sat for almost a month and there was almost no help. We have to somehow survive,” she said.
The number of new cases every day in Russia rose by 39,849 on Friday, which is just below an all-time record from the previous day. The government hopes that nonworking time, by keeping most people away from offices and public transport, would help contain the spread in Egypt or Turkey.
Record number of cases in Ukraine
The Ukrainian president on Friday urged citizens to get vaccinated quickly as daily infections rose to another all-time high due to slow vaccine intake.
The Ministry of Health reported 26,870 confirmed new infections within 24 hours – the highest level since the pandemic began. It recorded 648 daily deaths to bring the pandemic death toll to 66,852.
Authorities said the rise in infections and deaths was due to low vaccination rates. Only 16.4 percent of people in the country of 41 million people are fully vaccinated – the second lowest rate in Europe after Armenia’s seven percent.
The slow pace of vaccination in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries has been attributed to public distrust of the authorities, which has contributed to the widespread dissemination of disinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines.
“I urge you to turn off social networks and turn on your brain,” President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians. “The only way to prevent a breakdown is to increase the number of people vaccinated. I ask the regional authorities to wake up and go to bed with this in mind.”
In order to contain the contagion, the Ukrainian authorities have required teachers, government employees and other workers to be fully vaccinated or to suspend their wages by November 8th. In addition, a vaccination certificate or a negative test is now required when boarding planes, trains and long-distance buses.
– From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:15 am ET
What is happening in Canada
A Canadian decision to approve Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 5 to 11 will not be made until mid or late November, a senior official said Friday.
“I think we are at least a few weeks away from a final decision,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s Chief Medical Adviser, gave a public briefing on COVID-19 in Canada on Friday.
– From Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 11:55 PM ET
What’s happening all over the world
As of Friday morning, more than 245.6 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll was more than 4.9 million.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is running for an unopposed second term of five years. This was announced by the UN health authority after the application deadline for the next term of office on September 23. The formal election of the next Director General will take place at the next WHO General Assembly in May.
Tedros, an Ethiopian national who became the first African to head WHO, has overseen the agency’s complex response to the COVID-19 pandemic that overshadowed his tenure. Trained in biology and infectious diseases with a doctorate in community health, he is also the first WHO chief who is not a doctor.
In Europe, health officials in Poland reported 9,387 new cases on Friday – the highest number the country has seen since April – with 102 deaths. The government will have to consider tighter restrictions if the average daily cases exceed 7,000 at the end of the month, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski was quoted earlier this week as saying.
By doing America, the union representing New York City firefighters on Thursday called on a state court to prevent Mayor Bill de Blasio from enforcing his order urging all city workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to keep working can. The leaders of the Association of Uniformed Firefighters have already urged unvaccinated firefighters to report for duty despite de Blasio’s orders, and essentially urged the city to send them home.
In Africa, Kenya’s Ministry of Health reported 80 new cases and four more deaths on Thursday.
By doing Asia Pacific Region, the island nation of Tonga reported its first case of COVID-19 after a traveler from New Zealand tested positive. Tonga is among the few remaining nations in the world that have avoided outbreaks of the virus. As with many of its neighbors, Tonga’s isolation has helped keep it safe, but it faces major challenges should the virus take hold due to an underserved healthcare system. The traveler has isolated himself in a quarantine hotel.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 tourists visiting China’s Inner Mongolia region have been sent to hotels to undergo a two-week quarantine. The move follows reports of a COVID-19 outbreak in the vast, sparsely populated region that attracts visitors with its mountains, lakes and meadows.
By doing middle East, Iran reported 159 additional deaths and 11,409 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
– From The Associated Press, Reuters, and CBC News, last updated at 8:15 am ET