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Sport Moscow records 9,056 new Covid cases - its highest ever

15:16  18 june  2021
15:16  18 june  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Moscow recorded 9,056 new Covid cases on Friday - its highest ever - amid fears a new variant known as the 'Moscow strain' is driving up infections.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin extended restrictions imposed earlier, including events with more than 1,000 people, night-time curfews for cafes and restaurants, and closing Euro 2020 football fan zones.

'It's tripling, there's an enormous dynamic that we have not seen during the previous waves,' Sobyanin said during a video conference, adding that new variants were likely to blame.

Infections have surged by almost two-thirds since last Friday and the capital accounts for nearly half of all Russia's cases.

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Epidemiologists say the Sputnik V is capable of dashing the mutant strain but with only 13% of Russians having received a first dose, removing lockdown restrictions remains precarious.

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'I didn't want to do this, but we have to,' Mayor Sobyanin wrote on his website.

'Starting today, we will limit mass events to a maximum of 1,000 people.'

'We are temporarily stopping all mass entertainment events and we'll also have to close dance halls and fan zones,' he wrote, referring to the Euro 2020 fan zone outside of the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow.

On Wednesday, Sobyanin had ordered mandatory vaccinations of all service industry workers in Moscow and last weekend announced a 'non-working' week in the capital.

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Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg, the country's worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches - including a quarter-final - and is expected to see thousands of football fans from Europe.

On Monday, Saint Petersburg also announced a tightening of restrictions, including no food sales in its fan zones.

Also on Friday, Sobyanin extended until June 29 several measures that were announced last weekend, like the closure of food halls in malls, zoos and playgrounds.

Russia recorded 17,262 new COVID-19 cases nationwide on Friday, pushing the national infection tally to 5,281,309 since the pandemic began.

The government coronavirus task force confirmed 453 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours nationwide, taking the death toll to 128,445.

The increase in cases comes as the country struggles to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, even though the country launched a mass campaign of free jabs in December and has developed and approved four vaccines - Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-dose Sputnik Light.

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Since December only 19 million out of a national population of 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.

In Moscow, just 1.8 million out of a population of 12 million have gotten inoculated.

Russia overtook Britain on Thursday as the European country to record the most Covid deaths with 127,992.

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

What are the main variants recognised by the WHO?

'Alpha' variant

First spotted: Kent

Scientific name: B.1.1.7

'Beta' variant

First spotted: South Africa

Scientific name: B.1.351

'Gamma' variant

First spotted: India

Scientific name: P.1

'Delta' variant

First spotted: India

Scientific name: B.1.617.2

On Wednesday, Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology said he did not believe the strain was totally resistant to jabs.

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 COVID-19. The Variant Delta is flying the coronavirus epidemic in Russia © Sergei ILNITSKY / EPA / MAXPPP A patient woman to receive a dose of vaccine in Moscow, June 18, 2021. Coronavirus finds a revival in Russia since several days. More than 15,000 cases of infection have been identified in Russia in 24 hours. The delta variant seems to be the cause of this runaway. The Covid-19 epidemic leaves more beautiful in Russia .

Chief epidemiologist Alexander Gintsburg told the Moscow Times: 'We think that the vaccine will be effective, but we must wait for the study results.'

Coronaviruses — including the type that causes Covid — are constantly evolving to become better at spreading.

Several different Covid variants have already emerged since the pandemic began, including the Kent 'Alpha' variant, which quickly became the world's dominant strain.

Scientists at Britain's Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) first detected the B.1.1.7 variant of coronavirus in September in the English county of Kent.

It took almost three months before they discovered that the variant was 70 per cent more transmissible than existing variants and further weeks before discovering it was also much deadlier.

The coronavirus has undergone thousands of mutations since its emergence in 2019, but most make no difference to its impact on human health.

But B.1.1.7 drove a surge in cases that flooded Britain's hospitals, pushed its death toll above 125,000, and triggered travel bans by dozens of countries.

The South Africa 'Beta' variant is thought to be partially resistant to vaccines but its lower transmissibility means it has become dominant in the UK or abroad.

Now the Indian 'Delta' variant has taken over in the UK and scuppered lockdown easing plans because it is 60 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variety, according to experts.

But the vaccines are thought to be as effective against the strain after two doses, with two separate Public Health England studies showing that having both jabs is as effective at producing deaths and hospitalisations for the variant as they are for the Kent one.

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