Russia reports highest daily COVID-19 case rise since early January

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People receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination centre in Gostiny Dvor in Moscow, Russia July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW, July 9 (Reuters) - Russia reported 25,766 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the most confirmed in a single day since Jan. 2, as authorities struggled to suppress a surge in infections blamed on the more contagious Delta variant.

Officials have been trying to encourage or compel Russians to get vaccinated since infections began rising steeply last month. Demand for vaccination had been tepid, but authorities say it has now picked up significantly.

"Ideally, given vaccination is the only way to effectively fight the pandemic, we'd like everyone to be vaccinated one way or another," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "But in reality, this result is hard to achieve."

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said almost 30 million people had received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

There were 6,643 new cases in Moscow, where residents need to show a QR code that proves they have had a vaccine, a negative test or immunity to be able to sit inside at cafes or bars.

State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had blocked 399 web pages containing information about the sale of fake vaccination certificates and QR codes, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia's coronavirus task force said 726 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, close to a record daily rise. That pushed the national death toll to 141,501, it said.

The federal statistics agency has, however, kept a separate count and has said that Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to COVID-19 from April 2020 to April 2021. read more

Russia has confirmed 5,733,218 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began 18 months ago.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Anastasia Teterevleva, Anton Kolodyazhnyy and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and Timothy Heritage

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