Moscow COVID-19 surge probably due to more infectious variants -mayor

MOSCOW, June 17 (Reuters) – Moscow’s mayor said on Thursday the COVID-19 situation was unexpectedly and rapidly deteriorating, and that the city was probably facing new coronavirus variants that were more aggressive and infectious.

The Russian capital reported 7,704 new infections on Sunday, the most in a single day since Dec. 24. Authorities confirmed 14,723 cases nationwide, the largest one-day total since Feb. 13. The daily figures have remained high this week.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Friday’s caseload would be more than 9,000, which would make it the most recorded in Moscow since the pandemic began. Until the beginning of June, daily new infections had been mostly below 3,000 for months.

Sobyanin, who was speaking at a government meeting broadcast on state television, did not specify which new virus variants he was referring to.

The head of the consumer health watchdog, who was also at the meeting, said the number of coronavirus cases attributed to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, was rising significantly across the country.

Sobyanin said officials were rapidly increasing the number of hospital beds in the city to treat a possible influx of COVID-19 patients. There are currently enough beds available, he said.

He announced no new restrictions to rein in the outbreak, but said officials would monitor the situation closely.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Anton Zverev
Writing by Tom Balmforth
Editing by Peter Graff

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