Moscow authorities say they will extend the winter school holidays by one week until January 17 to limit the spread of the coronavirus and avoid new restrictions.
Russian schoolchildren will be on holiday starting January 1. Russian officials have resisted imposing a strict lockdown as they did earlier this year, relying on such targeted measures instead.
Authorities are betting on a mass vaccination program using Russia’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine to get the outbreak under control.
In a statement on December 29, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the extended school holidays will help stabilize the daily rate of COVID-19 infections “at a lower level than at present.”
“This means we would be able to avoid introducing new, highly undesirable restrictions in January,” he added.
Sobyanin called the Russian capital’s surging coronavirus outbreak “alarming.”
Russia reported 27,002 new COVID-19 cases on December 29, including 5,641 in Moscow, taking the total to 3,105,037 since the pandemic began.
On December 28, Russia confirmed that it has been underreporting its coronavirus death toll, announcing that the actual number of fatalities related to the pandemic was more than three times higher than previously released figures.
The Rosstat statistics agency said more than 186,000 Russians had died from COVID-19.
The admission places Russia third behind the United States and Brazil in terms of COVID-19 fatalities.