Vaccination bookings shoot up in Greece; normalcy restored in Russia

Under the measures that came into effect Saturday, unvaccinated people in Greece can only enter banks, government departments and most shops if they show a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Published: 09th November 2021 09:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2021 09:34 AM   |  A+A-

People have a meal in a restaurant in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. (Photo | AP)


ATHENS: Greece reported a new record high for daily COVID-19 infections on Monday as vaccination appointments shot up after new restrictions on unvaccinated people kicked in over the weekend.

Health authorities recorded more than 7,300 new infections since late Sunday, compared to the previous record of about 6,900 set Friday, amid a constant surge in cases that's filling hospital intensive care units.

Officials also registered 65 new deaths.

About 61% of Greece's 11 million population has been fully vaccinated so far, which is below the European Union average.

But senior health ministry official Marios Themistocleous told a briefing on Monday that over the past seven days there's been an 185% increase in first vaccination appointments, and a 200% surge in booster shot appointments.

"It's a very important increase," he said.

"What has changed is the introduction of the new measures and the high number of infections. But this must continue, and the pace of appointments must increase."

Under the measures that came into effect Saturday, unvaccinated people in Greece can only enter banks, government departments and most shops if they show a recent negative COVID-19 test.

The same applies to outdoor restaurant and café areas, while only vaccinated people are allowed indoors at such establishments.

Unrestricted access is still allowed for supermarkets, shops selling food and pharmacies.

Unvaccinated people must also present two negative tests weekly to access their workplaces.

Even the powerful Orthodox Church of Greece, until now lukewarm on pandemic restrictions, last week strongly urged worshippers to only enter churches if they are vaccinated, have recovered from the coronavirus or can show a recent negative test.

The country has so far recorded nearly 800,000 infections and more than 16,300 deaths.

Russians went back to work on Monday after a nine-day hiatus ordered by the authorities to tame a record-breaking surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.

Despite the drastic move, the daily tallies of new cases and COVID-19 deaths remained high throughout the non-working period.

Officials in the Kremlin argued Monday that it was too early to tell whether the measure had the desired effect.

"Too early to draw a conclusion. It will be clear in about a week," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia's coronavirus task force reported 39,400 new infections and 1,190 deaths on Monday, numbers only slightly lower than the record 41,335 new cases registered on Saturday and the record 1,195 deaths reported on Thursday.

Russia has the worst death toll in Europe by far, and is one of the top five hardest-hit nations in the world.

The task force has been reporting around 40,000 new cases and over 1,100 new deaths each day since late October.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered many Russians to stay off work between Oct.30 and Nov.7.

He authorized regional governments to extend the number of non-working days, if necessary, but only five Russian regions have done so.

Others have restricted attendance to public places, such as restaurants, theaters and cinemas, to those who either have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.

Russia's autumn surge in infections and deaths comes amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government's reluctance to toughen restrictions.

Less than 40% of Russia's nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though Russia approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most countries.

In all, Russia's coronavirus task force has reported more than 8.8 million confirmed cases and over 248,000 deaths.

However, reports by Russia's statistical service Rosstat that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively reveal much higher mortality numbers: 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September this year.

Russian officials have said the task force only includes deaths for which COVID-19 was the main cause and uses data from medical facilities.

Rosstat uses wider criteria for counting virus-related deaths and takes its numbers from civil registry offices where registering a death is finalized.


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