Eastern Europe Wrestles With Virus Spike As Russia, Ukraine Report Record Deaths, Infections
By RFE/RL October 28, 2021
Coronvirus cases and deaths continue to spike across Eastern Europe where authorities have blamed the situation in large part on slow vaccination rates.
Russia on October 28 reported record numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths as Moscow shut down nonessential services for 11 days to combat the surge in infections.
The official government tally reported 40,096 new cases and 1,159 fatalities over the past 24 hours.
The country's overall death toll now stands at more than 235,000 -- the fourth-highest in the world behind the United States, Brazil, and India.
Moscow reimposed a partial lockdown on October 28 with only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets allowed to remain open.
The country will also go into a nationwide workplace shutdown in the first week of November. Amid a lagging inoculation campaign, President Vladimir Putin has ordered that people who get vaccinated be given two paid days off work as officials try to lure the public to get the shot.
Three out of four unvaccinated Russians said they do not plan on getting a free shot to protect them from COVID-19, however, according to a new poll.
The survey of 2,001 Russian citizens aged 15 or or older was conducted by Gallup from May through July and published on October 28. The margin of error is 2.8 percent.
At the time, 77 percent of respondents said they were not vaccinated, indicating that 58 percent of the population would refrain from getting a shot.
Nearly 1-in-3 Russians is now vaccinated, up from the 23 percent when the Gallup poll was conducted during the summer, but it is still low by Western standards.
Russia has recently required certain segments of workers to get vaccinated in order to continue their employment, helping increase the number of vaccinated. However, fake vaccination cards are prevalent in Russia and may skew the actual number of vaccinated individuals.
Julie Ray, who edits and manages Gallup research publications, said that low confidence in the government is a roadblock to increased vaccinations. Only 19 percent of those who expressed low confidence in the government said they planned to get vaccinated, according to the Gallup poll.
Ukraine also registered a record daily high of 26,071 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, surpassing the previous high of 23,785 on October 22, the Health Ministry said on October 28.
The number of virus-related deaths was 576, the ministry said.
Ukraine's tally of infections stands at 2.85 million since the start of the pandemic, with 66,204 deaths.
Ukraine, a nation of 42 million, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, making the country vulnerable to an uptick in cases, medical experts say.
About 9.5 million Ukrainians -- or slightly more than one-fifth of the population -- have received the first of two doses of a vaccine, with just 7.2 million Ukrainians fully vaccinated.
Bulgaria, meanwhile, will temporarily close its border to most Ukrainian visitors amid the spike in COVID-19 cases there. The travel restrictions will come into force on October 30, the Ukrainian Embassy in Sofia announced.
Only Ukrainians with Bulgarian residency as well as their family members will be allowed to enter the country under the temporary travel restrictions if they have a negative COVID test, proof of vaccination, or documents showing they have recovered from the virus.
In Hungary, the government announced it will require employees at state institutions to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after a jump in new coronavirus cases.
With reporting by the Kyiv Post
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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