Russia eases COVID-19 measures as daily cases hit record

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Russia will lift some of its COVID-19 restrictions starting Sunday, the consumer health watchdog announced on Saturday, despite reporting a record daily number of cases as the omicron variant spreads across the country.

The number of daily infections has been surging since January. But the highly transmissible omicron variant has not led to a significant increase in deaths, and the Kremlin has recently dismissed concerns about the risk of new lockdowns.

According to the latest order from the consumer health watchdog, from Sunday people will no longer need to self-isolate after contacting those infected with COVID-19.

In Moscow, schools and nurseries may end isolation requirements for pupils from next week, the capital’s coronavirus task force said.

Earlier this week, Anna Popova, the head of the watchdog, said that some of the restrictions no longer made sense as the omicron variant was spreading too fast. Up to 20% of infected people in Russia and 40% of people in Moscow have no symptoms.

The order to lift quarantine restrictions comes as new daily cases in Russia jumped to 177,282 on Saturday, from 168,201 a day earlier, and compared with less than 16,000 a day that Russia reported a month ago, the government coronavirus task force said.

It also reported 714 deaths in the past 24 hours, down from all-time high levels above 1,200 recorded in November.

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