Russia's COVID-19 death toll hits record high for fifth day

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Medical specialists wearing protective gear transport a person on a stretcher outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

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MOSCOW, July 3 (Reuters) - Russia on Saturday reported 697 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the pandemic began and the fifth day in a row it has set that record.

The government coronavirus taskforce confirmed 24,439 new coronavirus cases nationwide, the most it has reported since January. Officials blame the surge on the infectious Delta variant and tepid demand for vaccinations.

Moscow, the worst-hit region throughout Russia's pandemic, accounted for 7,446 of Saturday's new cases. But its mayor told residents the rate of vaccinations was picking up and that more than 2.7 million people had received at least one vaccine dose.

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Spooked by a new wave of infections that began last month, officials imposed an array of measures to compel or encourage people to get vaccinated.

Vaccines against COVID-19 are widely available in Russia, but polls show many people don't want to have them.

In Moscow, which has not had a strict lockdown since last summer, officials have now banned people from going to cafes, bars and restaurants unless they can show proof of vaccination, immunity or a negative test.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said he hoped that the number of people who have had a first dose would reach 3 million next week. He said around 60-70,000 people were being vaccinated on a daily basis.

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Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Ros Russell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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