Healthcare professionals, wearing special protective gear, try to care for Covid-19 patients in the capital Moscow as the death toll climbs to record numbers. Photo: AFP / Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency

Russia on Tuesday recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll yet, following an increase in cases linked to the Delta variant and a lackluster vaccination drive.

A government tally reported 852 fatalities over the past 24 hours, a record in Russia since the start of the pandemic.

The new figure brings the country’s total deaths from Covid-19 to 205,531 – the highest toll in Europe.

Authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak.

Under a broader definition for deaths linked to the coronavirus, statistics agency Rosstat reported in late August that Russia had seen more than 350,000 fatalities.

Russia, the world’s fifth worst-hit country with more than seven million infections, has seen cases climb since last month as vaccinations stall.

Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak, has experienced a spike over the past week, with authorities warning of rising hospital admissions.

Deputy mayor Anastasia Rakova has said that the highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for all of the cases in the Russian capital.

Authorities face a vaccine-skeptic population, with polls showing that a majority of Russians do not plan to get jabbed. 

The Kremlin initially set a goal of fully inoculating 60% of Russia’s population by September, but later dropped that target even though free jabs have been available since early December.

As of Tuesday, only 28% of the population had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid data from the regions.

AFP