MOSCOW

COVID-19 cases and virus-related deaths in Russia have reached highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Friday, authorities reported 20,582 new cases, the highest daily number since the first infection was detected on Jan. 31.

According to health authorities, the total number of COVID-19 cases reached over 1.73 million.

In the last 24 hours, the number of virus-related deaths rose by 378 to hit 29,887, and the recoveries increased by 16,955 to near 1.3 million.

The rate of increase in daily infections across the country rose from 1.1% to 1.2%, while 25.7% of new cases had no symptoms.

Despite the rises in both infections and fatalities, officials argue that the second wave has not arrived yet and the situation is under control.

Authorities claim that the pandemic in the country will likely to reach its peak in a few weeks.

“The situation is tense, the pandemic continues,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov said in a statement, adding that the cases may further rise, and the situation requires additional measures.

Russia on Oct. 28 introduced new measures to contain COVID-19 infections, making mandatory the use of face masks in public areas, public transport, and elevators, with cafes, bars and restaurants closed at 11:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. across the country, except in the capital Moscow.

* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara.

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