Russia asks pension-age doctors to return as COVID-19 cases soar

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia called on pension-age doctors who quit during the pandemic for safety reasons to return to their jobs on Thursday as the authorities reported a record one-day tally of COVID-19 cases as well as a record number of deaths.

FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists walk inside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

The Kremlin has blamed the rising toll on Russia’s slow vaccination campaign and has appealed to people to get the shot. Take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products.

“In a situation where infections are growing, it is necessary to continue to explain to people that they must get vaccinated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“It is really irresponsible not to get vaccinated. It kills,” he said.

Thursday’s case tally of 31,299 new cases marked the first time Russia has officially reported more than 30,000 cases in a single day since the pandemic began.

The government taskforce reported 986 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, a record death toll for the third day in a row.

“We appeal to health workers who left medical practice at a time when there were risks to health and life to invite them to return,” Health Minister Mikhail Murashko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

“Today vaccination allows us to protect lives and health,” he said.

Around a third of the population – or 43 million people – has been inoculated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday.

Russia was fast to develop and launch its Sputnik vaccine when the pandemic struck last year and has since approved three other vaccines too.

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