Thursday. 23.05.2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday backed a Cabinet proposal to declare a work-free week in the country in order to stem a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases.

Workers across Russia are being told to stay home from October 30 to November 7, but they will continue to be paid their wages. Regions where the situation in particularly bad can extend the duration.

Putin said he approved of the measure put forward by Deputy Head of Government Tatyana Golikova during a live broadcast of the government meeting shown state television.

Russia used a similar strategy at the beginning of the pandemic last year. It was met by criticism from the business community, which argued that the government was placing an unfair burden on employers.

This time, government spending amounting to 27 billion rubles (380 million dollars) is planned to cushion the financial consequences for businesses.

In recent weeks, Russia's coronavirus cases have hit one record high after another.

More deaths than ever before

On Wednesday, statistics showed 1,028 Covid-19 deaths within 24 hours - more than ever before. In the same period, more than 34,000 new infections were counted.

In 27 of Russia's 85 regions, more than 90 per cent of coronavirus beds in hospitals are now occupied, Golikova said.

According to the Kommersant daily, in some places all beds designated for coronavirus patients are occupied.

In his remarks, Putin also lamented the low vaccination rate in the country. Just under a third of the 146 million residents have been fully vaccinated, according to official figures.

The Kremlin leader, who went into self-isolation last month after members of his circle fell ill with Covid-19, called on Russians to always isolate themselves after contact with infected people.

Workers in Russia to stay home for a week to stem Covid-19 surge