Kremlin Blames COVID Surge on Unvaccinated, Resists Lockdown as 929 Deaths Reported

As Russia reported a record 929 deaths Wednesday, the Kremlin blamed the country's latest COVID-19 surge on those who have yet to get vaccinated, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the rise in infections, Russian officials resisted the idea of putting the country on lockdown and said regional authorities would work to curtail the spread.

The virus began surging late in September, and the 929 documented deaths on Wednesday was the first time virus-related fatalities surpassed 900 in Russia throughout the entire pandemic, AP reported. For Russia, which already has the highest total of pandemic deaths in Europe, it also marked the fourth time this month that daily virus deaths broke the previous record.

The report comes as just 33 percent of the country's population of 146 million are at least partially vaccinated as of Tuesday, and 29 percent are fully vaccinated. Another 25,133 new infections were also reported Wednesday, AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russian COVID Surge
The Kremlin blamed a recent Russian COVID surge on residents who haven't gotten vaccinated as the daily virus death toll surpassed 900 for the first time in the pandemic Wednesday. Above, a demonstrator holds a poster reading "No political repressions" during an anti-vaccination protest in the center of in Moscow on July 24, 2021. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

A number of Russian regions have limited attendance at large public events and restricted access to theaters, restaurants and other places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.

In some regions, Russia's vast yet severely underfunded health care system has started to show signs of being overwhelmed by the outbreak.

Russian media have reported long lines of ambulances once again forming in front of hospitals in St. Petersburg. One desperate ambulance crew in the city of Vladimir, 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of Moscow, reportedly drove a COVID-19 patient to a local government building after failing to find a hospital bed for her.

On Tuesday, the presidential envoy in the Ural Mountains district—a part of central Russia that encompasses six regions—said 95 percent of the hospital beds for COVID-19 patients there have been filled.

"The situation is very dire," Vladimir Yakushev was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Asked by reporters if the Kremlin will offer support to regions if they impose local lockdowns to tackle the surge of infections, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged those authorities to think twice. He said regional authorities have the power to decide which measures to introduce but "declaring some kind of lockdown is an absolutely undesirable scenario for any region."

Overall, Russia's coronavirus task force has reported over 7.6 million confirmed cases and more than 212,000 deaths. However, reports by Russia's state statistical service Rosstat that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively reveal much higher mortality numbers.

Russian COVID Outbreak
Russia reported 929 new COVID deaths Wednesday, the first time daily deaths for the country have surpassed 900 throughout the entire pandemic. Above, a medical worker wearing protective gear escorts a man, suspected of having coronavirus, at a hospital in Kommunarka, outside Moscow, on July 12, 2021. Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo