Russia not planning lockdowns, Putin says, despite record high COVID deaths

(Reuters) – Russia is not planning to impose any blanket restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, even as the country reported a record new daily death toll from the respiratory disease.

Infections have proliferated in recent weeks with 15,700 new cases reported on Wednesday, close to a record caseload confirmed earlier this week.

That raised expectations that Moscow might impose a widespread clampdown to curb the outbreak – restrictions that proved to be economically crippling earlier this year.

“Regarding the possibility of harsh, total measures – we are not planning to do it. The government does not have such plans,” Putin said at a meeting held by video link with Russia’s top business figures.

Russia needs keep on carrying out tests for COVID-19, observe safety measures and start vaccinations, Putin said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was now better equipped to respond to the pandemic, and that safety precautions, hygiene and curbs imposed by local authorities were key.

“The work that has been done has already yielded results,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “The health system is ready to sustain the pressure caused by the pandemic.”

Russia’s health watchdog said it was investigating a report by local media outlet 161.ru that several people in a hospital in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don had died when their oxygen supply ran out. A city official denied the report.

Peskov called the report alarming.

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