Russia Sees 984 COVID Deaths in 1 Day as Just 29 Percent of Country Fully Vaccinated

On Wednesday, Russia saw another record number of daily COVID-19 deaths at 984, with just 29 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

The government's coronavirus task force reported the record number of deaths in one day, the country's new pandemic high. Russia has broken its record high daily death tolls several times this month as infection rates also reach near all-time highs. On Wednesday, 28,717 new cases were reported.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday that only about 43 million Russians, or about 29 percent of the country's population of nearly 146 million people, were fully vaccinated.

Slow vaccination rates have contributed to the increased spread and number of deaths from the virus, the Kremlin has said. However, the government remained reluctant to require vaccinations or enforce lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russia COVID-19 Patients
Russia reported 984 deaths from COVID-19 in one day on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, breaking previous daily death toll records again this month. Medical staff members carry a person on a stretcher at the section for COVID-19 patients at the Kommunarka Hospital outside Moscow on October 5, 2021. Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the need to speed up the vaccination rate, but he also has cautioned against forcing people to get the shots by applying administrative pressure. Experts have attributed the slow pace of vaccination to widespread vaccine skepticism and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Kremlin has ruled out a new nationwide lockdown like the one during the first months of the pandemic that badly crippled the economy and dented Putin's ratings, delegating the power to enforce coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

Some Russian regions have restricted attendance at large public events and limited 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.

But life remains largely normal in Moscow, St. Petersburg and many other Russian cities, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced. In Moscow, the authorities expanded free coronavirus tests in shopping malls, hoping it would help stem contagion.

The soaring infections have increased the pressure on Russia's health care system, with hospitals filling up quickly. Speaking at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said 11 percent of Russia's 235,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in serious or critical condition.

Overall, Russia's coronavirus task force has registered more than 7.8 million confirmed cases and 219,329 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe. The state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasn't considered the main cause, has reported a much higher toll of pandemic deaths — about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19.

If that higher number is used, Russia would be the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world during the pandemic, after the United States, Brazil and India. Even the lower mortality figure only shifts Russia down to fifth place, after Mexico.

COVID-19 Cemetery
Russia hit another record of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as the country struggled with a rapid surge of infections and lagging vaccination rates, but authorities have been adamant that there would be no new national lockdown. Crows sit on grave crosses in the section of a cemetery reserved for coronavirus victims in Kolpino, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Photo