Russia recorded a new daily high number of COVID-19 cases as much of the country’s businesses remain closed in an effort to counter a weeks-long surge in infections.
The national coronavirus task force on Sunday reported 40,993 new infections over the previous day, up more than 700 on the previous record of a day earlier. Russia has tallied new record of infections or deaths almost daily during October.
The death toll reported Sunday was 1,158, just slightly down from Friday’s record 1,163.
That brought Russia’s official COVID-19 death count to 238,538, by far the largest in Europe. More than 8.51 million infections have been recorded in the country of 146 million during the pandemic.
The task force counts only deaths directly caused by the virus. The state statistics service Rosstat, which counts COVID-19 deaths by wider criteria, released figures Friday indicating a much higher toll.
Rosstat counted 44,265 deaths in September caused directly by the virus, or in which it was a contributing cause or of patients believed to have been infected. That would bring Russia’s pandemic-long death toll to about 461,000 as of the end of September, nearly twice the task force’s count.
To contain the spread of infection, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a non-working period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, during which most state agencies and private businesses are to suspend operations.
Moscow introduced the measure beginning Thursday, shutting down kindergartens, schools, gyms, entertainment venues and most stores, and restricting restaurants to takeout or delivery. Food stores, pharmacies and companies operating key infrastructure remained open.
Access to museums, theaters, concert halls and other venues in Russia is limited to people holding digital codes on their phones to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, a practice that will remain after Nov. 7. Unvaccinated people older than 60 have been ordered to stay home.
WATCH | Russia reimposed some restrictions amid record cases, deaths:
The government hopes that by keeping most people out of offices and public transportation, the non-working period will help curb the spread of the virus, but many Russians rushed to use the time off for a seaside Black Sea vacation or to take a trip to Egypt or Turkey.
Authorities have blamed soaring infections and deaths on Russia’s lagging pace of vaccinations. About 51 million Russians — just over a third of the country’s people — were fully vaccinated as of Sunday.
Russia was the first country in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine in August 2020 and proudly named the shot Sputnik V to showcase the country’s scientific edge. But the vaccination campaign has stalled amid widespread public skepticism blamed on conflicting signals from authorities.
What’s happening in Canada
WATCH | NACI expands recommendations for booster shots:
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 246.5 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.
In Asia, South Korea will drop all operating-hour curbs on restaurants and cafes and implement its first vaccine passport for high-risk venues such as gyms, saunas and bars.
In Europe, Sweden’s response to the coronavirus was too slow and preparations to handle a pandemic were insufficient, a commission investigating the country’s response to COVID-19 said.
In the Americas, enrolment in U.S. government-run health insurance program Medicaid during the pandemic grew 16 per cent, with more than 11 million additional sign ups, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
In Africa, Tanzania has made up for a slow start and has now administered more than 940,000 vaccine doses so far, according to the World Health Organization Africa Region.
U.S. to revoke terrorist designation for Colombia’s FARC, add breakaway groups
The United States will revoke its designation of the Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization on Tuesday while designating two breakaway groups as such, a senior State Department official said on Friday.
A review of the terrorist listing – required every five years under U.S. law – found that the leftist organization known by the Spanish acronym FARC should no longer be listed, The official said.
But the two dissident groups that have formed out of FARC, La Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP, or People’s Army, would be designated as foreign terrorist organizations, the official said.
“It’s a realignment to address these current threats,” the official said. “The FARC that existed five years ago no longer exists.”
Founded in 1964, FARC was responsible for summary executions and kidnappings of thousands of people, including Americans.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the United States was preparing to remove FARC from the list five years after the group signed a peace agreement with Bogota.
The State Department notified the U.S. Congress on Tuesday of its planned delisting of FARC. The Colombian government was formally notified on Wednesday.
The government of Colombia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision will allow U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on peace implementation in parts of Colombia where demobilized FARC soldiers are located, the official said.
“This is a priority for the Colombian government in the implementation of the peace agreement,” the official said.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis in Washington; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Mark Porter and Leslie Adler)
Tunisian police say they shot, wounded extremist trying to attack them
Tunisian police on Friday shot and wounded an extremist who sought to attack them with a knife and cleaver in the capital, authorities said.
The 31-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, shouted, “God is great. You are infidels,” as he ran toward police officers near the interior ministry, the ministry said in a statement.
Witnesses and local media said police shot the man in the leg and arrested him. The man, who was previously labelled an extremist by the government, was taken to hospital and is being investigated by an anti-terrorism unit, officials said.
Tunisian security forces have thwarted most militant plots in recent years and they have become more efficient at responding to those attacks that do occur, Western diplomats say.
The last major attacks in Tunisia took place in 2015 when militants killed scores of people in two separate assaults at a museum in Tunis and a beach resort in Sousse.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman)
At least 19 killed in bus crash in central Mexico
At least 19 people were killed and 20 more injured on Friday when a passenger bus traveling on a highway in central Mexico crashed into a house, authorities said.
The brakes on the bus, which was heading to a local religious shrine in the state of Mexico, failed, according to local media reports. State authorities did not disclose the possible causes of the accident.
Assistant state interior secretary Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem said that the injured had been transferred to hospitals, including some by air.
The state Red Cross said 10 ambulances had rushed to the area.
(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Laura Gottesdiener)
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