Russia has reported some Covid-19 infections with a new coronavirus variant believed to be even more contagious than the Delta one, the RIA news agency said on Thursday.
It is possible that the AY.4.2 variant will spread widely, RIA quoted the state consumer watchdog's senior researcher Kamil Khafizov as saying.
That could cause the rate of new Covid-19 cases, already at record highs in Russia, to rise even further.
Week-long paid holiday
Putin on Wednesday approved a government proposal for a week-long workplace shutdown at the start of November to combat a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Coronavirus-related deaths across Russia in the past 24 hours hit yet another daily record at 1,028, with 34,073 new infections.
Speaking at a televised meeting with government officials, Putin said the "non-working days" from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, during which people would continue to receive salaries, could begin earlier or be extended for certain regions.
"The epidemiological situation is developing differently in each region," Putin said. "In light of this, the heads of regions are given the right to impose additional measures."
Authorities have stepped up the urgency of their efforts to slow the pandemic as they confront widespread public reluctance to get injected with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. Moscow's mayor announced four months of stay-home restrictions for unvaccinated over-60s on Tuesday.
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