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Russia to ease COVID-19 restrictions despite hitting record cases

Medical workers carry a patient suspected of having coronavirus on a stretcher at a hospital in Kommunarka, outside Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr

Russia will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions from Sunday, the consumer health watchdog announced on Saturday, despite reporting a record daily number of cases as the Omicron variant spreads across the country.

The number of daily infections has been surging since January. But the highly transmissible Omicron variant has not led to a significant increase in deaths, and the Kremlin has recently dismissed concerns about the risk of new lockdowns.

Read more: Russia’s COVID-19 death toll crosses 650K, second highest in the world

According to the latest order from the consumer health watchdog, from Sunday people will no longer need to self-isolate after contacting those infected with COVID-19.

In Moscow, schools and nurseries may end isolation requirements for pupils from next week, the capital’s coronavirus task force said.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19 Several European countries break new daily case records' COVID-19 Several European countries break new daily case records
COVID-19 Several European countries break new daily case records – Dec 30, 2021

Earlier this week, Anna Popova, the head of the watchdog, said that some of the restrictions no longer made sense as the Omicron variant was spreading too fast. Up to 20% of infected people in Russia and 40% of people in Moscow have no symptoms.

Read more: COVID-19 won’t disappear and provinces need to ‘evolve,’ says Canada’s top doctor

The order to lift quarantine restrictions comes as new daily cases in Russia jumped to 177,282 on Saturday, from 168,201 a day earlier, and compared with less than 16,000 a day that Russia reported a month ago, the government coronavirus task force said.

It also reported 714 deaths in the past 24 hours, down from all-time high levels above 1,200 recorded in November. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Catherine Evans and Clelia Oziel)

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