In Russia, employers in the food supply, grocery service and some other sectors, who are obliged to have 60% of their employees vaccinated by July 15, are asking for the deadline to be extended to August 15 because of the lack of capacity at vaccination centers, Chris Weafer, co-founder of Macro-Advisory in Moscow, said in an emailed note on July 13.
He noted that there has been a spike in total new cases nationwide, despite a fall in Moscow, as the delta strain moves to other regions, particularly St Petersburg and the Moscow region. The death rate is at a record high of 5,000 per week, reflecting both better forensics and the fact that the more deadly delta strain is spreading across populations with low vaccination rates.
According to Weafer, the Rosstat data for May showed a death rate that was back to normal, but this was the calm before the storm of the third wave. The government estimates that deaths were 13% higher in June, implying 35,000 excess deaths, the highest since January.
The Moscow City government is allowing restaurants to have guests on open air verandas without QR-codes until August 1, which was to have been July 12.
New travel restrictions for Russians
As of July 7, Russian citizens, and those from other EaEU states, must self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result, which they must take in Russia. The restriction does not apply to foreigners as they need a negative PCR test to board a flight to Russia, Weafer said reminding that Russians do not need that. The new rule does not apply to those with a double vaccination or who have recently recovered from Covid.
Meanwhile, the UK Foreign Office advises against travel to Russia. On Monday July 12, the UK’s Foreign Office issued a travel advisory against all but essential travel to Russia because of the worsening Covid infection rate.
St Petersburg is also tightening. As of July 13, gatherings of 75 people, or more, will be banned in the city. There are a few specified exceptions.
The lockdown has driven new cases to low levels, and the number of active cases is falling. The delta strain has been identified in Ukraine but is not spreading, Weafer said,. adding that all of Ukraine is in the green zone. The quarantine system has been extended to the end of August. Vaccination update: 2.8% have had two doses up from 2% last week, and 5.6% have had at least one dose. Vaccination is moving quickly with over 100,000 injections per day.
New infections remain at record levels. According to Weafer, 11 regions are in the red zone, up from eight last week. Further restrictions in Nur-Sultan include bans on large gatherings and entertainment venues. The President called for a new approach to the infection, which we think means a Taiwan/China approach with short and tight lockdowns. He also ordered the purchase of the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccination is progressing well, with about 13% of the population having received two doses (up from 11% the previous week), and 23% have received at least one dose.
New cases are still high and the delta strain of Covid-19 has been discovered in Uzbekistan, Weafer said. There are new restrictions on mass events, and weddings are limited to 50 family members from the same region. The government is floating the idea of making vaccination compulsory.
The peak of the third wave has been passed and new cases are down to a handful. The current quarantine has been extended until December 21st. Mass vaccination started in late April, although supplies are low. The authorities have had to set rules about where foreigners can be vaccinated, as Iranians are crossing the border to get vaccinated. Vaccination is running at about 5,000 per day, which is slower than the authorities would like.
The third wave has clearly peaked thanks to a tough lockdown; the government has now relaxed quarantine rules. Some 15.7% of the population has received two vaccine doses, up from 13.5% the previous week. Azerbaijan started vaccination before other countries, buying SinoVac in bulk. Take-up has been good without any need for compulsion, Weafer said.
New cases in Belarus continued to rise last week, which may be the delta variant starting to appear. About 7.3% of the population has had both doses, up from 5.8% last week. 11.2% have received at least one dose.
There was a small rise in new cases, which may be due to the delta strain. The authorities have warned that the situation is deteriorating and have encouraged more people to get vaccinated. Vaccination has been limited by supplies, Weafer said, reminding that mass vaccination started on July 5. The government has said that there are about 80,000 free vaccination slots, so willingness may be an issue, but there has not really been a pro-vaccination campaign while supplies were limited.